It has become abundantly clear that many Senate Democrats are determined to use the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings as an opportunity to campaign on a litany of progressive talking points in anticipation of the November 3 election. But the winner of the prize for asking strange questions out of left field has to be Senator Mazie Hirono (D) from Hawaii.
On Tuesday, she made headlines by asking Judge Barrett if she had ever “made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?” Judge Barrett of course answered no.
On Wednesday, she decided to read a rambling lecture criticizing Judge Barrett – a lecture punctuated by a few loaded questions. After haranguing Judge Barrett about the Trump Administration’s efforts to restore the citizenship question on the census, she turned to the Left’s catch-all topic of “voter suppression.”
Reading her written remarks, Senator Hirono said that after the Shelby County Supreme Court decision, “It was totally foreseeable that you would have a lot of states passing voter restriction, suppression basically, laws. Do you believe, Judge Barrett that voter suppression or discrimination in voting currently exists?”
Judge Barrett answered by pointing out that racially-discriminatory state voting laws are prohibited by federal law. Hirono interrupted, saying, “We know that over a dozen states passed what I would characterize as voter suppression laws; so that is obviously happening.” Hirono was almost certainly referring to the seventeen states that have passed photo-ID requirements for voting.
The notion that photo-ID requirements are racially discriminatory is illogical at best. It has been contradicted empirically, when in the 2012 election, after numerous states enacted photo-ID laws, black voter turnout rates exceeded white voter turnout rates in virtually all of those states. In none of the states were black turnout rates lower than white turnout rates.
Not to mention the dirty little secret that Democrat politicians never want to discuss: minority voters overwhelmingly favor photo-ID laws. A 2016 Gallup poll showed what virtually every poll on the subject has shown: Americans overwhelmingly support photo-ID laws; and the same holds true for minority Americans. A whopping 80 percent of total respondents supported photo-ID requirements; and a similar 77 percent of nonwhite respondents support photo-ID requirements.
And finally, there’s one other point that Judge Barrett might have mentioned, if Hirono had given her time to answer—the U.S. Supreme Court has already considered the photo-ID issue and has found such laws to be fully consistent with the Constitution. In 2008, in the Crawford v. Marion County Election Board decision, Justice Stevens (who was certainly no conservative) wrote for a six-justice majority that Indiana’s photo-ID law did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Justice Stevens pointed out that, “For most voters who need them, the inconvenience of making a trip to the DMV, gathering the required documents, and posing for a photograph surely does not qualify as a substantial burden on the right to vote, or even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.”
But Senator Hirono probably didn’t know about that decision, because her staff didn’t put it in her prepared remarks.
Kris W. Kobach is an expert in immigration law and election fraud. He was a professor of constitutional law during 1996-2011 at the University of Missouri-KC. He was the Secretary of State of Kansas during 2011-2019. He authored and defended in court the Kansas law that introduced photo-ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements for voting.