Klobuchar Hits Coburn For Saying America Was More Free When There Were No Women On The Supreme Court

As confirmation hearings on Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court proceed, Senate Republicans continue blustering through their arguments — even going as far as to lambast Kagan’s clerkship under Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice. Today, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) echoed classic Republican talking points under President Obama, lecturing the Supreme Court nominee about how Americans are “losing freedom,” and how we were more free “30 years ago.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) then responded to Coburn by pointing out that Coburn’s idea of a more “free” society was when women had fewer rights:

KLOBUCHAR: I was really interested and listening to Senator Coburn. … He was actually asking you, just now, back 30 years ago if you thought that we were more free. … But I was thinking back 30 years ago, was 1980. … And then I was thinking, were we really more free, if you were a woman in 1980? Do you know, solicitor general, how many women were on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980?

KAGAN: I guess zero.

KLOBUCHAR: That would be correct. There were no women on the Supreme Court. Do you know how many women were sitting up here 30 years ago in 1980?

KAGAN: It was very striking when Senator Feinstein said she was one of two women. I thought, how amazing. So, how many?

KLOBUCHAR: There were no women on the Judiciary Committee until after the Anita Hill hearings in 1991. Do you know how many women were in the United States Senate in 1980, 30 years ago?

KAGAN: I’m stumped again.

KLOBUCHAR: No women were in the United States Senate. There had been women in the senate before, and then in 1981, Senator Kassebaum joined the Senate. So, as I think about that question about if people were more free in 1980, I think it’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

(Klobuchar later corrected herself later to note that Kassebaum was already serving in the Senate at the time, having been sworn in in 1978.)

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Kathryn Lopez, the editor of National Review Online, quickly responded to Klobuchar’s comments on Twitter, writing, “given the women who are in the senate now, i’d be happy with the zero number again.” Within moments, the insensitive comment had disappeared from Lopez’s Twitter page, but ThinkProgress captured a screenshot:


Nina Bhattacharya