A run-of-the-mill Senate Judiciary Committee hearing became bad-tempered Wednesday, with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) accusing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) of “mansplaining” after he referenced her in a question to a nominee about the doctrine of judicial originalism.
During the hearing to consider U.S. District Judge Gustavo Gelpi’s nomination to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, Cruz told the nominee that Hirono had stated “that you refused to commit to originalism because originalism would prevent [case] outcomes that she supports … she doesn’t want judges who will follow the original understanding of the Constitution.”
“Is it right that you don’t intend to follow the original understanding of the Constitution?” asked Cruz.
“Senator, as I mentioned to an earlier question, I will apply originalism. That is one of the factors, or the tests, that the Supreme Court has laid out for judges to follow and I cannot ignore it. I have to follow originalism in the cases where it is appropriate,” answered Gelpi.
When Cruz attempted to ask a follow-up question, he was cut off from the chair by Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), who told Cruz his time had expired and recognized Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.)
“You know, this is a committee where we’ve had a little bit of comity,” Cruz began, “and I recognize Senator Ossoff is new, but we generally don’t have the chairman trying to jump in thirty seconds in, and I recognize the chairman does not want these questions answered –“. At that point, Ossoff called for order, repeatedly banging his gavel as Padilla and Hirono both sought to be recognized.
“Senator Ossof desperately does not want these questions answered,” Cruz added.
When Hirono was recognized for a “point of personal privilege,” she said: “I would request that my colleague, Sen. Cruz, not misstate what I’m saying. You know what, all this mansplaining, please stop.”
As Ossoff tried again to recognize Padilla, Cruz challenged Hirono.
“What was mischaracterized, Senator Hirono? You just said I mischaracterized something,” the Texan said before he was cut off by Ossoff pounding his gavel.
“I’m very proud you have a gavel, but a point of personal privilege,” Cruz rebuked Ossoff. “Senator Hirono just said I mischaracterized something she said. So I’m asking her to explain what was mischaracterized. You’re welcome to explain what was mischaracterized.”
After Ossoff allowed Hirono to respond, the Hawaii Democrat said: “The thing with my colleague is, he always has to get the last word and that is a fact.”
“I do not object to originalism as applied because it results in decisions that I don’t agree with,” she continued. “I disagree with the way that the Court proceeded – some of the members of the court and how they proceed with originalism to get to the results that they want. So, that’s it.”
“Is it not accurate that you said you thought originalism shouldn’t be followed because it would lead to a different result in Obergefell [v. Hodges] and a different result in Roe [v. Wade]?” Cruz asked. “Is that not what you said?”
“No,” Hirono answered. “Some of the court members apply originalism. Not all of them do, and that is why, in some instances, they have been in the minority. Maybe not so much now.”
At that point, Cruz let the matter drop.
Wednesday was not the first time Cruz and Hirono had clashed in the committee room. This past August, Hirono objected to Cruz convening a Judiciary subcommittee hearing on “terror attacks” by members of the far-left group Antifa.
“What we’ve seen in Portland, Oregon, is peaceful protesters in need of protection from federal officers,” Hirono said. “The hearing we should be having is one called the right of the people peaceably assemble without being beaten up by unidentifiable federal agents.”
Hirono then left the hearing early, telling Cruz: “I hope this is the end of this hearing, Mr. Chairman, and that we don’t have to listen to any more of your rhetorical speeches.”