One of President Joe Biden’s judicial candidates did not say Tuesday whether she believes Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is “intellectually and morally bankrupt,” a characterization she endorsed in 2018 and which would not disown during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Jennifer Sung, Biden’s choice for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, mingled with Republicans on the Judiciary Committee in a open letter she signed in 2018 heartbreaking Yale Law School for bragging about Kavanaugh’s accomplishments shortly after President Donald Trump appointed him to the Supreme Court.
Hundreds of former and current Yale students and educators signed the letter criticizing Kavanaugh, who received her law degree from Yale in 1990. Sung, a labor lawyer and former union organizer in Oregon, graduated in 2004.
The letter raises concerns about Kavanaugh, who went on to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, having “systematically protected the interests of powerful institutions and ignored the rights of the vulnerable.”
He also refers to Kavanaugh as an “intellectual and moral bankrupt ideologue”.
When asked about the letter, Sung said she acknowledged that some of her rhetoric was “overheated” and that it was written in the vein of “rhetorical plea.” She stressed that she had signed it as a private citizen addressing her alma mater.
“If, in signing the letter, I created the impression that I would not respect the authority of Justice Kavanaugh as a judge of the Supreme Court, or any of the authorities of the judges or their precedents, then I apologize. sincerely, ”Sung said. “But I can promise you today that, if confirmed, as I have done throughout my career, I would fully respect all court precedents.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) went back and forth with Sung on it. He asked her three times if she thought Kavanaugh was intellectually and morally bankrupt. She never said no.
Cruz: Mrs. Sung, do you think Judge Kavanaugh is intellectually and morally bankrupt?
Sung: Senator, I would like all Supreme Court justices to know, including Justice Kavanaugh, that I fully respect their authority as a Supreme Court justice and would follow their precedents without reservation.
Cruz: You are an experienced lawyer. You know when someone isn’t answering a question. My question was simple and straightforward. Do you believe that Justice Kavanaugh is, I quote, intellectually and morally bankrupt?
Sung: As I said earlier, I recognize that this statement was overheated rhetoric and that’s all it was.
Cruz: I’ll try again because you signed your name and it wasn’t decades ago. It was very recent. You signed your name on this statement. I’m just asking today, do you believe that Justice Kavanaugh is, I quote, intellectually and morally bankrupt?
Sung: As I said, it was only a rhetorical plea that I signed strictly in a personal capacity as a private citizen addressing my alma mater. And throughout my legal career, as a litigator, as an arbitrator, I followed all the precedents of the courts and respected everything.
Cruz: It is disappointing that you refuse to answer this question.
It is nothing new for a federal judicial candidate to have previously criticized a Supreme Court justice. In fact, Republican senators didn’t seem to have a problem with it when Trump’s court of appeals candidates did.
Now Judge David Porter had previously described the appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an example of “judicial elitism”. Now Judge Neomi Rao is actually testified against Sotomayor during his confirmation hearing in the Senate, criticizing his “personal and consequentialist approach to judgment” and suggesting that his judicial philosophy challenged “dominant pragmatic judicial philosophies”. Now-judge David Stras had previously declared President Barack Obama ”could have done much better″ Than Sotomayor, and called his auditory responses ”uninteresting and even misleading. “
Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) Insisted over and over again on what she thought of Kavanaugh, repeatedly interrupting her as she attempted to answer his questions. He became so bossy that Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chairman of the committee, stepped in to tell Kennedy to give Sung a chance to respond.
Kennedy went on to ask Sung at least four more times if she thinks Kavanaugh is morally bankrupt, with a few related questions and more interruptions. He also randomly asked Sung, who is an Asian American, if she was “proud of the fact that Yale Law School has a quota system limiting the number of Asian Americans.”
“Senator, I am not aware of any such policy,” Sung began, “but what I can assure you is that I have a background as a …”
“We have to go out more! Kennedy yelled, interrupting him again.
Tensions only escalated when Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), The committee’s longest-serving member and former chairman, criticized Kennedy for being rude.
“This idea, that especially if we have a woman named, you can cut her off at any time, say whatever you want, she’s answered that question over and over again,” the Vermont Democrat said. “I hope we come back and show some respect for those who answer questions under oath.”
“I don’t like the suggestion that I’m doing this because it’s a woman,” Kennedy replied. “I would if she was making those unwanted remarks as a man.” And I do not believe the honorable senator has any evidence to show that I am a misogynist.
Leahy noted the Republicans’ voting record when it comes to advancing committee bench candidates who are women or people of color. Kennedy, for her part, voted in committee against Biden’s now confirmed four appeals court judges – all of whom are black women.
“I have respect for this committee, but I also watch the record of the votes on the candidates,” Leahy said. “I have seen in my years here that are longer than anyone else’s, I have seen a disproportionate number of votes – I am not referring to any specific senator, you can go back and look at your own record – a number of votes against women and people of color, especially women of color.
Durbin stepped in to say it was time to move on.
“We’re going to end this conversation,” he said, “and get back to committee business. “
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