Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) hammered Anne Rachel Traum, nominee to be United States District Judge for the District of Nevada, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
“Do you believe that a criminal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice?” Kennedy asked Traum 9 times, and she refused to answer.
Traum refused to answer the question of whether or not she would forgive a crime in the name of social justice trying to redirect Kennedy, in an exhaustive exchange.
‘That Was Embarrassing, I Can’t Vote For You’ Kennedy said at the end.
Kennedy: Professor Traum, do you think we should forgive criminal misbehavior in the name of social justice?
Traum: Senator, thank you for that question. I recognize that all issues of crime and all responses to crime are fundamentally policy issues. So those are important issues, they’re important for our community and our nation, but I leave those policy issues to policy makers. If confirmed as a judge, I would not be a policy maker. I would be —
Kennedy: I’m not asking your opinion as a judge. I’m asking your opinion as a person, as a law professor. I’ll stipulate with all of you that you’re all going to be fair and unbiased, okay? Now, do you think that criminal misbehavior and illegal acts should be forgiven in the name of social justice?
Traum: Senator, I do believe that all criminal policy is fundamentally a policy issue.
Kennedy: Yes ma’am but do you think as a person, as a professor, that an illegal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice?
Traum: Senator, that is not a view that I have taken in my work and —
Kennedy: That’s no? Is your answer no?
Traum: Senator, in my work I have not taken that view and —
Kennedy: I’m asking, Professor, what you believe. I think this is really straightforward; you’re a professor. Do you believe that an illegal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice? It’s pretty simple.
Traum: Senator, I believe that we have criminal laws, criminal laws that are created by policy-making bodies like this one —
Kennedy: I got all that. Do you believe that a criminal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice?
Traum: So, Senator, we have not only criminal laws but we have a criminal process by which people come before the court to be held accountable if they are charged with a crime. And I have enormous respect for that process.
Kennedy: I do, too. Do you believe that a criminal action should be forgiven in the name of social justice?
Traum: Senator, when people come before the court, if they are charged with the crime, that is a highly individualized and fact-specific process with all who are involved. And I respect that process.
Kennedy: I respect the heck out of it. Do you believe that a criminal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice?
Traum: Senator, I don’t think that I could say with respect to any particular case, or as a generality with respect to any category of cases —
Kennedy: Do you not have an opinion?
Traum: I don’t have a view to share on how any particular kind of case should be handled.
Kennedy: Do you have a view on my question?
Traum: I do not have a viewpoint to share on how any particular case —
Kennedy: I didn’t ask that; I can tell you don’t want to share it; I got that part. Do you have a view? I don’t understand why you won’t answer my question. If you’re confirmed you’re going to be a federal judge. I join my good friend Senator Durbin in saying the judicial temperament is important, but I think being unbiased is even more important, and I find it incredible that you won’t answer my question. So I’m going to ask it again; maybe it’s me. Do you believe that we should forgive a criminal act in the name of social justice?
Traum: Senator, I share the view that we should be unbiased but I also share the view that our criminal justice system and our process is very individualized, so what should happen in any particular case is a matter of the process and the very specific facts in that case.
Kennedy: Do you believe that a criminal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice?
Traum: Any case is always highly individualized, based on the process and the fact —
Kennedy: What’s your favorite color?
Kennedy: Thank you. I got one. I’m one for about twenty. I can’t vote for you. Not if you’re not going to answer questions. I mean, that was embarrassing.
Traum, according to her bio:
Anne Rachel Traum is a Professor of Law for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law and is a nominee to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada.