During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Kennedy repeatedly asked law professor Anne Traum, a nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, over the span of just over five minutes whether criminal acts should be forgiven “in the name of social justice.”
Traum’s first answer was “I recognize that all issues of crime and all responses to crime are fundamentally policy issues. So those are important issues. They’re important for our community and our nation. But I leave those policy issues to policymakers. If confirmed as a judge, I would not be a policmaker.”
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After Kennedy asked the question for the second time, Traum replied, “I do believe that all criminal policy is a fundamentally a policy issue.”
Following Kennedy asking the question for the third time, Traum said, “That is not a view that I have taken in my work.”
“So that’s no,” interjected Kennedy. “Is your answer no?”
“Senator, in my work I have not taken that view,” said Traum.
“Do you believe that an illegal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice?” said Kennedy, who added, “It’s pretty simple.”
“So, senator, I believe that we have criminal laws,” said Traum. “Criminal laws that are created by policymaking bodies like [the Senate].”
Moments later, in response to Kennedy’s repeated question, Traum said, “I share the view that we should be unbiased. But I also share the view that our criminal justice system and our process is very individualized so what should happen in any particular case is a matter of the process and the very specific facts in that case.”
“Do you believe that criminal acts should be forgiven in the name of social justice?” Kennedy asked.
“So the outcome of any case is always highly individualized based on the process and the facts of that case,” replied Traum.
Finally, Kennedy asked a different question: “What’s your favorite color?”
“Blue,” replied Traum, who laughed.
“Thank you,” said Kennedy. “I’m one for about 20.”
Below is a video of the exchange.