Biden judicial nominee refuses to say whether racial discrimination is wrong

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Biden judicial nominee refuses to say whether racial discrimination is wrong

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Biden judicial nominee Kenly Kiya Kato avoided directly answering a question from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz about whether or not racial discrimination is “wrong.”

Kato, President Biden’s nominee to be a United States District Judge in California, declined to give a yes or no answer at a Tuesday Senate hearing.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2021. Picture taken Oct. 6, 2021.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2021. Picture taken Oct. 6, 2021.
(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo)

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“Senator, our Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of race,” Kato said in response to the question.

“Let me ask you again, is racial discrimination wrong?” Cruz asked again.

Kato responded by saying that as a judge she does not deal with “issues of morality,” at which point Cruz asked if she has any views of whether discrimination is “right or wrong.”

Kato again declined to answer because “that is an issue that is frequently litigated before the courts.”

Kenly Kiya Kato, a nominee to be U.S. district judge for the Central District of California, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Feb. 1, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Kenly Kiya Kato, a nominee to be U.S. district judge for the Central District of California, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Feb. 1, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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“OK, so why does the Constitution prohibit racial discrimination?” Cruz asked. 

“Senator, I think it’s part of the Constitution and this nation’s history of aiming for equal justice and treating people regardless of any protected class status equally and fairly,” Kato said. 

“So discriminating based on race violates, I think you just said, our Constitution’s history of aiming for justice,” Cruz responded. “Is that a fair characterization?”

Kato again declined to directly answer and said that racial discrimination “under the law” is prohibited.

Cruz then moved on to a different question regarding Harvard University Law School, which both he and Kato attended at the same time, and which is being sued in a case before the Supreme Court for racial discrimination against Asian students.

President Joe Biden answers questions during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 19, 2021.

President Joe Biden answers questions during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 19, 2021.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Kato, who is of Asian descent, declined to comment when asked by Cruz if she was concerned about discrimination against Asians on college campuses across the country.  

Biden nominated Kato in December and touted her at the time as a nominee who “would be the third AAPI woman judge to ever serve in the Central District of California.”

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