US V-P hopeful Kamala Harris gets chance to quiz Trump's Supreme Court nominee Barrett, with proper caution
WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - US vice-presidential hopeful Kamala Harris returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday (Oct 13) for a closely watched Supreme Court confirmation hearing, working to balance her instinct for a newsmaking cross-examination of the nominee with the Biden campaign's need to maintain its steady lead.
Harris is one of the most junior members of the committee, but also a Democratic Party standard-bearer as the vice- presidential nominee. She is largely leaving the campaign trail just three weeks from Election Day for what will probably be a futile battle to stop Republicans from confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
哈里斯是该委员会最初级的成员之一，但也是副总统候选人的民主党旗手。距离选举日只有三周的时间，她基本上将离开竞选活动，前往一场可能是徒劳的战斗，以阻止共和党人确认艾米·科尼·巴雷特(Amy Coney Barrett)进入最高法院。
At the hearing Tuesday, Harris questioned Barrett, a devout Roman Catholic, about abortion rights. Pointing to the judge's previous statements opposing abortion, Harris challenged her on her refusal to weigh in on any matters that could come before the court and warned that the right to abortion could be in the balance.
"As the Senate considers filling the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was straightforward enough in her confirmation hearing to say that the right to choose is 'essential to woman's equality,' I would suggest that we not pretend that we don't know how this nominee views a woman's right to choose to make her own health care decisions," Harris said.
哈里斯说：“随着参议院考虑填补大法官露丝·巴德·金斯伯格(Ruth Bader Ginsburg)的席位，她在确认听证会上直截了当地表示，选择权‘对女性平等至关重要’，我建议我们不要假装不知道这位提名人如何看待女性选择自己做出医疗保健决定的权利。”
The former district attorney and attorney-general elevated her national platform at the start of President Donald Trump's term with her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney-General William Barr, propelling her unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
这位前地区检察官和司法部长在唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)总统任期开始时提升了她的国家纲领，质疑最高法院提名人布雷特·卡瓦诺(Brett Kavanaugh)和司法部长威廉·巴尔(William Barr)，推动她竞选民主党总统候选人失败。
But now as Joe Biden's No. 2, Harris might have been inclined to tamp down some of her prosecutorial instincts, wary of alienating voters or endangering the risk-averse Biden campaign's polling lead, according to people familiar with her planning for the hearing.
She, like some other Democrats, is participating in the hearing remotely, after several committee members tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
That made it more difficult for her to have any breakout moments like the clips from past exchanges - in particular, her questioning of Kavanaugh on abortion rights when she asked him if he could point to any laws that "give the government the power to make decisions about the male body."
Harris isn't the only committee member with an election at stake. The chairman, Lindsey Graham, and fellow Republican members Thom Tillis, Joni Ernst and John Cornyn all are in re-election battles.
哈里斯并不是唯一一个面临选举风险的委员会成员。主席林赛·格雷厄姆(Lindsey Graham)以及共和党成员汤姆·蒂利斯(Thom Tillis)、乔尼·恩斯特(Joni Ernst)和约翰·科宁(John Cornyn)都在为连任而战。
Graham's Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison, reported raising US$57 million (S$77.2 million) in the third quarter, more than any Senate candidate in that time frame in US history.
But for Harris, the hearing comes less than a week after her debate with Vice-President Mike Pence, a performance cheered by Democrats, and her biggest television audience since the Democratic National Convention in August.
The hearing began Monday with opening statements, which will be followed by two days of questions, but even Graham acknowledged none of the rhetoric will likely change any minds, with Democrats voting no and Republicans voting to confirm Barrett.
The Biden campaign said Harris would be fully engaged in the hearings while continuing to be active on the campaign trail.
"We will talk to voters any which way we can," Liz Allen, Harris's campaign communications director, said after the debate last week, adding, "We can talk to voters virtually, in person, in writing."
But while the campaign and her Senate office are legally not allowed to coordinate on strategy and tactics, Democrats across the board are united in their messaging approach.
As Monday's opening statements showed, they are focusing on the hearings on policies - particularly health care - more than Barrett's personal life or her religious faith.
In fact, they are hoping to avoid the fireworks that characterised Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, which centred around a sexual assault allegation from his high-school years. Instead, the questions have highlighted the policy implications of adding Barrett to the high court.
"This nominee said she wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act," Biden told reporters on Monday. "The president wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. Let's keep our eye on the ball."
Just a week after Election Day, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on a case that could gut the Affordable Care Act and take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Democrats pushed Barrett on the issue, as she has criticised past court rulings upholding the law known as Obamacare. Barrett demurred, saying only that she would put aside her personal feelings when considering any case.
Harris, a junior committee member, was one of the last senators to question the court nominee. Along with abortion rights, Harris's questions focused on the Obamacare case. She warned about the consequences if the health care law was rolled back during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The Affordable Care Act and all its protections hinge on this seat and the outcome of this hearing," Harris said Tuesday.
"And I believe it's very important the American people understand the issues at stake, and what's at play."