Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) was forced to ask one of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees the same question nine times this week to elicit a response — but the question still was ultimately dodged.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday on the nomination of Anne Traum to become a U.S. District Judge for the District of Nevada, Kennedy asked Traum for her legal view of certain crimes related to social justice.
"Do you think we should forgive criminal misbehavior in the name of social justice?" Kennedy asked.
But Traum, a law professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, was not interested in offering a direct response.
"Senator, thank you for that question. I recognize that all issues of crime and all responses to crime are fundamentally policy issues," Traum responded. "So, those are important issues, they are important for our community and our nation, but I leave those policy issues to the policymakers. If confirmed as a judge I would not be a policy maker."
"I’m not asking your opinion as a judge," Kennedy interrupted. "I’m asking your opinion as a person, as a law professor. I’ll stipulate, with all of you, that you’re all going to be fair and unbiased. Now, do you think misbehavior and illegal acts should be forgiven in the name of social justice?"
When Traum began offering the same response, Kennedy cut her off again, and re-asked his question.
"Senator, that is not a view that I have taken in my work," Traum finally admitted.
"That’s no?" Kennedy said. "Is your answer 'no?'"
Traum did not answer that question directly, only stating that she has not "taken that view" in her work. But Kennedy pressed further.
"I'm asking, professor, what you believe. I think this is really straightforward. Do you believe that an illegal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice," Kennedy said. "It’s pretty simple."
Kennedy questions Anne Traum in Judiciary www.youtube.com
The grandstanding, however, continued. Kennedy asked his question several more times while Traum offered up several versions of the same response: that she cannot speak generally and that she is not a policymaker.
"Do you not have an opinion?" Kennedy finally asked. Traum responded that she does "not have a view point to share."
"I can tell you don't want to share. I got that part," Kennedy responded. "I don't understand why you don't want to answer my question. If confirmed you’re going to be a federal judge. And I join my good friend, Sen. [Dick] Durbin, in saying judicial temperament is important. But I think being unbiased is even more important, and I find it incredible that you won’t answer my question."
Kennedy asked his question two additional times, but Traum refused to provide a direct answer. He then jokingly asked Traum about her favorite color — a question that she answered — before declaring that he will not vote for her nomination.
"I can’t vote for you, not if you’re not going to answer the questions," Kennedy said. "I mean that was embarrassing."