By Brianna Lyman
Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy grilled one of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees with the same question nine times in a row over the course of five minutes.
Anne Traum was nominated by Biden to be the United States District Judge for the District of Nevada. During Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Kennedy questioned Traum’s beliefs on criminal justice.
“Do you think we should forgive criminal misbehavior in the name of social justice?” Kennedy asked.
“Senator, thank you for that question. I recognize that all issues of crime and all responses to crime are fundamentally policy issues. 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 policymaker,” Traum said before Kennedy cut her off.
“I’m not asking your opinion as a judge. 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?” Kennedy pressed.
“Senator, I do believe that all criminal policy is fundamentally a policy issue –” Traum began before Kennedy again interjected to ask whether, as an individual, she believes that an illegal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice.
“Senator, that is not a view that I have taken in my work,” Traum said.
“That’s no?” Kennedy said. “Is your answer ‘no?’”
Traum again reiterated she has not “taken that view” in her official capacity.
“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. It’s pretty simple.”
“Senator, I believe that we have criminal laws, criminal laws that are created by policy making bodies like this one-” Traum said before Kennedy again interjected.
“I got all that. Do you believe that a criminal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice?” Kennedy, seemingly agitated, said.
“We have not only criminal laws but we have a criminal process by which people come before the court to be held accountable if they are charged with a crime. And I have enormous respect for that process.”
“I do too,” Kennedy said. “Do you believe that a criminal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice?”
Traum said each individual that appears before the court has a unique case and she “respects that process.”
Kennedy again asked whether a criminal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice.
“I don’t think I could say, with respect to any particular case or as a generality with respect to any category of cases–” Traum said.
“Do you not have an opinion?” Kennedy questioned.
“I don’t have a view to share on how any particular kind of case should be handled,” Traum said.
“If confirmed you’re going to be a federal judge. And I join my friend, Sen. Durbin, in saying judicial intemperment is important. But I think being unbiased is even more important,” Kennedy said. “And I find it incredible that you won’t answer my question.”
“So I’m going to ask it again, maybe it’s me,” Kennedy said. “Do you believe that we should forgive a criminal act in the name of social justice?”
“Senator, 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 and that –” Traum responded.
“Do you believe that a criminal act should be forgiven in the name of social justice,” Kennedy once again pressed.
Traum began explaining the outcome of a case is individualized before Kennedy cut her off and asked what her favorite color is.
“Blue” Traum said, with Kennedy joking he’s received at least one clear answer from Traum.
“I can’t vote for you, not if you’re not going to answer the questions,” Kennedy said. “I mean, that was embarrassing.”
Traum, a law professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, was nominated by Biden in November to fill one of two vacancies that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts considered an emergency fill, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Traum was selected by a judicial commission in Nevada made up of Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen.