Demonstrating her formidable rhetorical skills and her unwillingness to suffer fools, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) lit into Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) this week, lambasting him for mocking Democrats’ concern about the Supreme Court and attempting to disentangle the Republicans’ power grab from the election. Klobuchar would have none of it. “No, Senator Cruz, this isn’t ‘theater,’” she said in response to his accusation that Democrats were playing politics with a nominee. “This is about people’s lives — their health care, their rights, and their future,” she said indignantly. She was just getting warmed up:

She made clear she is not yet willing to concede that Republicans get their second extremist justice through a hypocritical power play.

Klobuchar will play a critical role in the confirmation hearings. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is certainly capable of dismantling a nominee, but she may be constrained by her role as a vice-presidential nominee. Klobuchar, however, has no concern about posing tough questions: Will she recuse herself from any election litigation? Which precedent is up for grabs? Isn’t she being picked because she’s a slam dunk on reversing abortion rights?

The Associated Press recently reported: “In a 2013 Texas Law Review article, [Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney] Barrett listed fewer than 10 cases she said are widely considered ‘super-precedents,’ ones that no justice would dare reverse even if they believed they were wrongly decided. Among them was Brown vs. [sic] Board of Education, which declared racial segregation in schools unconstitutional. One she didn’t include on the list: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that affirmed a woman’s right to abortion.” Compelling the nominee to articulate the consequences of overturning settled law (some states could criminalize abortion, correct?) is a job Klobuchar is uniquely qualified to do.

Republicans, as they did in the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, want to have it both ways — assuring the base the nominee is all-in for their “side” while insisting the left is being hysterical about the consequences of putting another right-wing nominee on the bench. Klobuchar must explain what it means to have a highly ideological justice on the bench whose cramped method of jurisprudence does not see constitutional protections for gay marriage, for access to abortion and a host of other rights we have come to take for granted.

Trump’s nominee may be more congenial and intellectually adroit than Cruz, but Klobuchar reminds us that she is exceptionally skilled at bringing arcane constitutional issues down to earth. She can explain what a justice’s style of interpretation means to real people. If Republicans want to jam their nominee through days before an election, it will be up to Klobuchar and her colleagues to show what radical, unpopular views will be the law of the land.

For staying sharp and pushing back on Republican condescension, we can say, well done Sen. Klobuchar.

The Fix’s Natalie Jennings breaks down the 2020 implications of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and how both presidential campaigns have reacted. (The Washington Post)

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