Accuracy in Media

Amy Coney Barrett’s “evasions and knowledge gaps” on racism should “terrify” people if she is on the Supreme Court, Julia Craven wrote in a recent piece for Slate.

Craven focused on an exchange between Barrett and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D), describing Booker as “concerned and relentless.”

Booker cited a study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission that Barrett was not aware of. 

You said you were not familiar with that particular study, as you just reaffirmed, or the facts that they cite in this study showing that interracial bias is present in our system,” Booker said.

“I understand that you weren’t aware of specific studies I cited, which are central to the important work of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which advises federal judges or provides recommendations to federal judges,” Booker said. “So I just want to give you an opportunity today to share what studies, articles, books, law review articles, or commentary you have read regarding racial disparities present in our criminal justice system.”

Barrett tried to explain she did know the commission’s guidelines and studies. but was interrupted by Booker, who asked her about any specific “books you can name that you’ve read on this subject, or law review articles, anything that you specifically read outside of the sentencing guidelines?”

“Well, Sen. Booker, I will say what I have learned about it has mostly been in conversations with people, and at Notre Dame as at many other universities,” Barrett said. “It’s a topic of conversation in classrooms, but it’s not something that I can say, yes, I’ve done research on this and read X, Y, and Z.”

Craven’s piece was headlined, “Cory Booker Called Amy Coney Barrett’s Bluff on Racism” – but the article failed to explain what the “bluff” was.

Craven criticized Barrett’s decision not to answer controversial questions on policy issues, which is not uncommon for a judge to do. 

“But people concerned about racial inequity in the country would just have to trust her to get the problem right—even if, as it turned out, she hadn’t taken the time to do the reading on the subject,” Craven writes. 

Craven did not mention the other questions about race Barrett answered, including how she and her daughter cried when they saw the video of George Floyd’s death. 

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