Things That Matter

Amy Coney Barrett Has Refused To Acknowledge That Systematic Racism Exists

We know LGBTQ rights, birth control, and race are under threat as Amy Coney Barrett as President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. We know that that conservative judge has been evasive in answering comments about her beliefs which, if appointed, would steer her in making fundamental decisions that could affect American citizens’ lives for decades. Still, though we knew things are bound to go sideways as most things under the Trump administration have, we didn’t realize that an educated woman living in today’s world would refuse to acknowledge a basic societal fact: that “systemic racism” exists in the United States.

In written responses submitted Tuesday night, Barrett repeated her refusal to say whether “systemic racism” exists in our country.

After Sen. Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii asked her to explain her view of the existence of “systemic racism” in the United States, Barret refused the opportunity to acknowledge its existence.

“At the hearing, you acknowledged that racism persists in our country, but you refused to answer where there is systemic racism, calling it a ‘policy question.’ You also refused to answer other questions based on your view that they are ‘policy questions,’” Hirono wrote in his questions. “What makes a statement a policy question rather than a question of fact?”

“I believe that racism persists in our country, but as I explained at the hearing, whether there is ‘systemic racism’ is a public policy question of substantial controversy, as evidenced by the disagreement among senators on this very question during the hearing,” Barrett replied. “As a sitting judge and judicial nominee, it would be inappropriate for me to offer an opinion on the matter.”

Barrett’s approach to the question is not totally uncommon. Previous Supreme Court nominees have avoided answering questions concerning precedent. Barrett clung to the approach during her confirmation hearing last week while sitting before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Barrett used this as a standard and repeatedly cited it as a reason for dodging questions.

Systemic racism exists within our country without question.

It persists in our academic settings, workplaces, as well as in our court and judicial system. The fact is that when a certain group dominates a majority of positions of decision-making power, others struggle to exist and get by let alone get ahead. For generations and right now, white people have been the dominating group with decision-making power and people of color have suffered as a result. Acknowledgment is a vital part of making this change. Particularly from our leaders.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Barrett’s confirmation on Thursday afternoon.

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