Cory Booker Called Amy Coney Barrett’s Bluff on Racism

Cory Booker Called Amy Coney Barrett’s Bluff on Racism Photos by Graeme Jennins/Pool/Getty Images, and by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sen. Cory Booker was concerned and relentless. It was Wednesday, the third day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. And Booker had just asked her about a study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission discussing the profound racism exercised against Black Americans who enter the criminal justice system.

“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. He noted that he believes Barrett understands that racism does, in fact, exist and that judges have played a crucial role in correcting for racial inequalities.

“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,” he continued. “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 replied by explaining that she knows the commission issues guidelines and studies, but Booker homed in on his original point.

“Forgive me for interrupting … but I was actually asking specifically any 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?”

This was all following up on Booker’s questioning of Barrett from Tuesday, which had followed up in turn on a meeting between the senator and the nominee before the hearing, at which he said he’d brought up the U.S. Sentencing Commission study. On Tuesday, Barrett said she wasn’t acquainted with the study particularly, but that she was aware of many studies that expound upon implicit bias in the criminal justice system. Now, after she’d had another 24 hours to prepare, he was asking her for more detail about those studies.

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