Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy duked it out with one of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees Wednesday over affirmative action and systemic racism.
Kennedy questioned Loren L. AliKhan, who is nominated to be a United States District Judge for Washington, D.C.
“Will you allow your personal or political beliefs to affect your decisions?” Kennedy began.
“No, Senator, my personal beliefs have never played a role in the positions I took as an advocate, nor do they play a role in the positions I take as a judge when I’m neutrally deciding a case,” AliKhan said.
“Let me ask you a few questions about how you view the world,” he continued. “Do you believe that minorities need special help to succeed?”
“Senator, that issue is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court-” AliKhan said before Kennedy interjected.
“Yes, ma’am, we’ve just established that you’re not going to let your personal opinions affect your decisions, you’re going to follow precedent.”
“Absolutely, I will follow whatever precedent comes,” AliKhan said.
“So let’s talk about your personal opinions, which will be irrelevant to your position on the court. Do you believe that minorities need special help to succeed?” Kennedy asked.
“Senator, again, I don’t have a personal position, and sitting here as a current sitting judge-”
“Have you thought about that?” Kennedy pressed.
“I am aware that we have given preferential treatment, it’s been subject to a lot of different court cases-”
“You agree with that or disagree with that?” he asked.
“It’s not a question, Senator, of whether I agree or disagree,” AliKhan said.
“Sure it is. You’re being confirmed to the federal bench and, presumably, you’re a critically thinking person. I’m just asking you what you believe,” Kennedy said before asking her the question again.
“Senator, to the extent policymakers have enacted laws that provide protections-” AliKhan said before Kennedy once again interjected.
“Do you agree with those policy makers?”
“I am not a policy maker and as a sitting judge-”
“You don’t have an opinion, or you’re just not going to answer? I don’t want to waste more time if you’re not going to answer,” Kennedy shot back.
AliKhan said it was “inappropriate” to answer the question as a sitting judge.
“We’ve already established that you’re not going to let your personal beliefs interfere with your decisions, so I think you oughta tell us what your personal beliefs are,” Kennedy said, before asking AliKhan if she “believes in” systemic racism. (RELATED: ‘We’re Giving Them A Big Ol’ Tax Credit’: John Kennedy Stumps Witness On Why Government Has To Pay People To Drive EVs)
“I think you oughta come here and answer — I think all of you should come here and answer them forthrightly,” the senator continued, adding if AliKhan has never thought about “these issues,” then she’s not qualified to be a judge. Kennedy then asked whether AliKhan thinks the District of Columbia Court of Appeals is systemically racist.
AliKhan said she does not think so, but that she’s not necessarily qualified to make that call.