In confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) has established himself as a thorough examiner of Joe Biden’s judicial nominees. Last Wednesday, the tenacious attorney turned senator asked one of Biden’s prospective federal judges the same question multiple times to get a straight answer. Even though the nominee refused to give a straight answer, Kennedy’s point was made.
Anne Traum has been nominated to be a federal judge on the U.S. District Court sitting in Nevada. During his time asking Traum about her qualifications for the position, Kennedy asked her about her stated positions on “social justice” and federal law. He asked her, “Do you think we should forgive criminal misbehavior in the name of social justice?”
A law professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Traum quickly indicated that she wanted no part of the question. She retreated to her talking points about “all responses” to crime in society being “policy issues.” Because she said she would not be a policymaker, she had no response to the question as a judge.
Kennedy told Traum that he was not asking her for a judicial opinion. He told her that he wanted to know her opinion as a law professor. He said he assumed she would be unbiased and act pretty as a judge for the question, but he wanted to know her opinion as a thinker.
She immediately retreated to the same talking points she had already recited, leading Kennedy to interrupt and ask his original question again. Traum finally said that she had not “taken the view” as a law professor that criminal misbehavior should be forgiven to advance social justice.
Kennedy pressed forward by again asking her if she would say, then and there, that her answer to the original question was, therefore, “no.” As Traum went back to her talking points and Kennedy could not get her to commit to an answer, he finally asked her, “Do you not have an opinion?”
Traum then admitted that she had no point of view that she wanted to share with Kennedy.
After asking the same question two more times, Kennedy finally asked if Traum would share her favorite color out of evident frustration. After she said, “blue,” Kennedy told her that he could not support her nomination.
Kennedy told her as he concluded that he could not vote for her if she refused to answer direct questions and said that her performance was “embarrassing.”