Sen. Maize Hirono to Judge Barrett: Have you ever raped anyone?

Sen. Maize Hirono to Judge Barrett: Have you ever raped anyone?
Maize Hirono, Amy Coney Barrett (Image: AIRTV screen grab via C-SPAN)

Those who were expecting the same kind of fireworks that made a mockery of the confirmation hearings of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh were probably disappointed by Day Two of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s hearings. No surprise witnesses were dredged up at the last minute to accuse Barrett of sexual misconduct, though Democratic Sen. Maize (rhymes with “crazy”) Hirono gave viewers the next best thing, asking the judge:

Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?

Hirono prefaced the question with the caveat “To ensure the fitness of nominees for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench or to any of the other positions — for any of the committees on which they appear — I ask each nominee these two questions, and I will ask them of you.” In other words, “No offense, bub, but you rape anybody?”

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The senator followed up with a second question: “Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?”

Barrett’s answer to both questions was a measured “No, Senator.”

As the interrogation progressed, Hirono did find an offense to pin on Barrett:

This Morning, senator Feinstein asked you a question about the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell V. Hodges, a case in which the court recognized the constitutional right to same-sex marriage. I was disappointed that you wouldn’t give a direct answer on whether you agreed with the majority or instead whether you agreed with your mentor, Justice Scalia, that no such right exists in the Constitution. So even though you didn’t give a direct answer, I think your response did speak volumes. Not once but twice, you used the term sexual preference to describe those in the LGBTQ community. Let me make clear: Sexual preference is an offensive and outdated term. It is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice. It is not. Sexual orientation is a key part of a person’s identity. That sexual orientation is both a normal extension of human sexuality and immutable was a key part of the majority’s decision in Obergefell. … If it is your view that sexual orientation is merely a preference, as you noted, then the LGBTQ community should be rightly concerned about whether you would uphold their constitutional right to marry.

There’s more in the video that follows and ultimately Barrett apologized, but Hirono’s diatribe raises a question. If a person’s sexual orientation is determined at birth and is immutable, as Hirono appears to be positing, then how can that person change “genders,” which frequently results in a change in sexual orientation? Isn’t Hirono merely foisting her opinion on Barrett as though it is fact?

LU Staff

LU Staff

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