It’s been more than 60 years since the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education—a decision now almost universally considered to be an undeniably good thing.
On Wednesday, however, Wendy Vitter, Donald Trump’s nominee for a federal judgeship in the Eastern District of Louisiana, refused to say at her Senate confirmation hearing whether she thought the case had been ruled correctly. And by “refused to tell,” I mean “awkwardly squirmed while trying repeatedly to avoid saying that the court was right to have ruled against segregation.”
“Do you believe that Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided?” Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked Vitter directly.
“I don’t mean to be coy,” Vitter began, before launching into an excruciatingly coy reply. Here’s her answer, word for word:
Vitter: I think I get into a difficult area when I start commenting on Supreme Court decisions—which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with. Again, my personal, political, or religious views I would set aside. That is Supreme Court precedent. It is binding. If I were honored to be confirmed I would be bound by it and of course I would uphold it.
Blumenthal: [long pause] ... Do you believe it was correctly decided?
Vitter: Again, I would respectfully not comment on what could be my bosses ruling—the Supreme Court—I would be bound by it, and if I start commenting on ‘I agree with this case’ or ‘don’t agree with this case’ I think we get into a slippery slope.
Ah yes, the slippery slope of...uh, agreeing with one of the country’s landmark racial equality rulings?
This appears to be a Trump-era trend. In 2005, current Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said in his confirmation hearing that he agreed with the Brown decision. Last year, Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, would only say that it was “a correct application of the law of precedent.”
Vitter, a longtime anti-abortion extremist who once claimed healthcare provider Planned Parenthood was guilty of “killing over 150,000 females a year,” also seemed to stand by that statement during her questioning, telling the Senate panel simply, “My pro-life stance has been made very clear.”