Like much of America (or at least that part of America that cares at all about who runs their country and how), I’ve been thinking a lot about the unseemly and divisive nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. These are some of the things I’ve concluded so far.
First, let’s start with some of the more legitimate complaints from Republicans.
- Let’s just concede that this is a political circus that Democrats are milking for as much political mileage as they can get. Of course it is. They are politicians and that’s what they do. Might as well criticize a fish for swimming.
- The timing of the release of the Ford allegation appears designed to give the maximum possibility of delaying a vote until after the mid-term elections. Again, of course it was, and Democratic denials are not credible. It’s smart politics. Republicans may not like it, but they have zero moral high ground to stand on after Merrick Garland. Their complaints are pure, unadulterated hypocrisy.
- When Senate Democrats first enacted the “nuclear option” to circumvent admittedly reprehensible Republican obstructionism on almost all of President Obama’s judicial choices, they set the stage for this travesty and ensured further politicization of the courts.
Republicans can legitimately (if hypocritically) complain about the politics of this.
In the end, none of that matters at all. The job before the U.S. Senate is to decide if Brett Kavanaugh is fit to serve for the rest of his life on the U.S. Supreme Court. There are serious allegations against him. So here are some of my thoughts on that.
- We will likely never “know” if he is guilty of what he is accused of or not. A lot of time has passed. Human memories (even when not effected by trauma and/or alcohol consumption) are tricky things. In the end it will likely come down to who you believe, and people will have their own criteria for determining that, and among those criteria political beliefs will weigh heavily.
- The stakes are very, very high. Kavanaugh, if confirmed, would tilt an already very conservative court even further to the right. Combined with the absolutely inexcusable refusal of Senate Republicans to give Obama nominee Merrick Garland a vote before the end of his term, this is a power play by Republicans to guarantee a sympathetic court for years to come. Roe v. Wade would be endangered, among other things.
- Given those high stakes, everyone involved has a strong potential motive to lie. Everyone. That is an uncomfortable truth that needs to be admitted.
- The primary accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has given no one any additional reasons to doubt her credibility. Her testimony was succinct, direct, humble and convincing. There is nothing in her background to suggest either extreme political motivations or dishonesty.
- Brett Kavanaugh, on the other hand, has been caught in multiple lies and distortions. He almost certainly lied under oath about his involvement with and knowledge of stolen Democratic memos when he worked in the White House. He has repeatedly tried to misrepresent and hide his heavy drinking and partying when he was in high school and college. And he was consistently evasive, confrontational and defensive in his testimony Thursday.
- Brett Kavanaugh has also amply and publicly demonstrated what everyone always suspected, that he is hyper-partisan and completely incapable of rendering fair judgment in any case involving politics. To be honest, most of the judges on the current Supreme Court also are (remember the 5-4 decision that gave George W. Bush the presidency). What is unprecedented about Kavanaugh is that, in his angry performance on Thursday, he didn’t bother to even attempt civility and humility. That may seem “honest” to some people (I suspect the same people who think Trump’s bluster, insults and lies are “honest”), but frankly, his performance was appalling to me, and demonstrates how far we have descended as a nation.
- Brett Kavanaugh, based on his own yearbook, previous comments and the testimony of peers, was at the very least a member of a heavy drinking and partying crowd of teenage boys/or young men who had a reprehensible and predatory attitude toward girls/young women at that time. That, in and of itself, is not disqualifying – if he admitted it and apologized for it. He has not. Instead, he has lied about it and shown no remorse.
- Before the “nuclear option”, his nomination would have been withdrawn by this time, for it would have no hope of passing. He could never get 60 votes to end discussion. Now, however, he only needs 51, which means he can be confirmed just by Republicans. That is bad for our country.
- It means we depend on at least two Republican senators to demonstrate a conscience and vote against him. Such displays of conscience among Senate Republicans are few and far between, particularly when following their conscience means conflicts with their own political goals.
I freely admit that I have always opposed the Kavanaugh nomination. I always thought he was far too partisan, and I’m still angry about the Merrick Garland travesty of justice. His confirmation would move the country further in the wrong direction on many issues I hold dear, and would have a heavy and negative impact on our country for years to come.
That said, through this process we have come to know Brett Kavanaugh and now I think all Americans of good conscience should also oppose his nomination.
Brett Kavanaugh is temperamentally unfit for office, just like the man who nominated him, demonstrating arrogance, anger and contempt for those who believe differently than he does.
Brett Kavanaugh is openly and extremely partisan and completely incapable of rendering an impartial judgment based on the law in any case that involves politics (and few cases reaching the Supreme Court do not).
Most important, Brett Kavanaugh has demonstrated himself to be dishonest, willing to do or say anything to get what he wants. That is not the kind of person we need on the Supreme Court.
The bar needs to be higher.