Biden nominee dodges Sen. Kennedy 9 times when asked if social justice-inspired crimes should be forgiven

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Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked a Biden judicial nominee whether crimes should be forgiven if they are committed in the name of social justice and did not receive a yes or no answer despite asking nine times.

“Do you think we should forgive criminal misbehavior in the name of social justice?” the Louisiana Republican asked United States District Judge for the District of Nevada nominee Anne Traum on Thursday.

Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C. 
(Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“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 policy maker,” Traum responded before being cut off by Kennedy, who asked the question a second time.

“I’m not asking your opinion as a judge,” Kennedy said. “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?”

“Senator, I do believe that all criminal policy is fundamentally a policy issue –” Traum said before being interrupted and asked a third time.

“Senator, that is not a view that I have taken in my work,” Traum responded.

“That’s no?” Kennedy asked. “Is your answer ‘no?'”

Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Traum said again that he has not “taken that view” in her work prompting Kennedy to ask the question again explaining that he is asking about her personal opinion.

“Senator, I believe that we have criminal laws, criminal laws that are created by policy-making bodies like this one-” Traum said before being interrupted again with the same question.

“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,” Traum said. “And I have enormous respect for that process.”

“I do too,” Kennedy responded before asking the question yet again.

Traum responded by again saying that she respects the criminal justice process.

“I respect the heck out of it,” Kennedy said before asking his original question again. 

“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 answered.

“Do you not have an opinion?” Kennedy asked.

“I don’t have a view to share on how any particular kind of case should be handled,” Traum answered.

“If confirmed you’re going to be a federal judge,” Kennedy said. “And I join my friend, Sen. 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.”

“So I’m going to ask it again, maybe it’s me,” Kennedy continued. “Do you believe that we should forgive a criminal act in the name of social justice?”

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 30: Riot police advances toward protesters at the intersection of E 31st St and S 3rd Ave on Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN. Protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody has erupted across the country.
(Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“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 said.

Kennedy asked the question again to which Traum responded by talking about case outcomes being individualized at which point Kennedy, who appeared exasperated, cut her off and asked what her favorite color is.

“Blue” Traum said which earned a sarcastic celebration from Kennedy that he finally received an answer to a question.

“I can’t vote for you, not if you’re not going to answer the questions,” Kennedy told Traum. “I mean that was embarrassing.”

Traum is a law professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and was nominated for the district judge position by President Biden earlier this year. It is expected that Traum, along with federal judge nominee Judge Cristina Silva, will face a confirmation vote in the next few weeks.

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