Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) made her twitter moment that Democrats crave to make, asking Judge Amy Coney Barrett Tuesday the most bizarre and now buzzed question asked during her 30 minute allotted time — has she been the perpetrator of any sexual misconduct.
Hirono, donning a face mask of caricature figure of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before delivering her questioning quoted a remark Chief Justice John Roberts made in 2017 where he acknowledged that the judiciary “is not immune” when it comes to the issue of sexual misconduct. She then went on to state it was her duty as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to “ensure the fitness of nominees,” especially of those in the position with lifetime appointments.
“Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors, or committed any physical or verbal harassment or assault of a sexual nature?” Hirono asked.
“No, Senator Hirono,” Barrett replied.
Hirono then asked, “Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?”
“No, Senator,” Barrett replied.
The Hawaiian Democrat noted that she asks these two specific questions of all nominees who come before committees on which she sits. However, she only began asking nominees these kind of questions in January 2018 with the hearing for the recently appointed Supreme Court Judge, now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“Starting today, I’m asking nominees to our courts, under oath, whether or not they have a history of sexual assault or harassment. Like in other industries, our judges are in positions of power & #TimesUp,” Hirono tweeted at the time.
Starting today, I’m asking nominees to our courts, under oath, whether or not they have a history of sexual assault or harassment. Like in other industries, our judges are in positions of power & #TimesUp. pic.twitter.com/Jk0NcTBi3h— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) January 10, 2018
Hirono would then used the remaining of her time in chastising Barrett on her usage of the term “sexual preference” instead of “sexual orientation,” criticizing her for using an “outdated” term when discussing the matter of same-sex marriage and the case of Obergefell earlier with another Democratic Senator member during Tuesday’s hearing.
“Not once, but twice, you used the term ‘sexual preference’ to describe those in the LGBTQ community,” Hirono said. “And let me make clear, sexual preference is an offensive and outdated term. It is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice. It is not. Sexual orientation is a key part of a person’s identity.”
“So if it is your view that sexual orientation is merely a ‘preference,’ as you noted, then the LGBTQ community should be rightly concerned whether you will uphold their constitutional right to marry. I don’t think that you use the term sexual preference as just — I don’t think it was an accident,” Hirono claimed before her time was up.
Sen. Joni Ernst(R-IA) gave Barrett the opportunity to respond to Hirono’s remarks, where the Supreme Court nominee was given the chance to clarify the term she used was referring to the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court landmark case that legalized same-sex marriage across the U.S. and not in such to “cause any offense” towards the LGBTQ community as Hirono was claiming.
“I certainly didn’t mean, and, you know, would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community. If I did, I greatly apologize for that. I simply meant to be referring to Obergefell’s holding with respect to same-sex marriage,” Barrett said.
The Trump campaign fired back at Hirono’s accusations of bigotry and shared a clip of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden using the “outdated” term back in May during a virtual campaign event with African American Florida Representatives.
“I’m going to need you if we win,” Biden said in May in which the Trump campaign cut short to highlight the former vice president using the “outdated” term. “I’m going to need you to help this time rebuild the backbone of this country, the middle class, but this time bring everybody along regardless of color, sexual preference, their backgrounds, whether they have any … Just bring everybody along. We can do this. We can, and I think the country’s ready.”