Today (28 September 2018) the Senate Committee on the Judiciary at last voted on the nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (He serves on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Judges in Courts of Appeals rate the title “Justice.”) By a vote of 11-10, the Committee reported his nomination to the Supreme Court favorably to the full Senate.1 But this vote came only after Democrats on the Judiciary Committee disgraced themselves. The spectacle exposed the naked and ugly partisanship of the Democratic Party.
Ford v. Kavanaugh
Yesterday’s hearing took place because Christine Blasey Ford PhD, age 51, accused Justice Kavanaugh of thoroughly (and dangerously) boorish behavior when the two were in high school. The alleged incident took place in the summer of 1982. Kavanaugh, 17, was then a junior at Georgetown Preparatory School. Ford, two years younger than he, attended a different school entirely. According to Ford, she attended a party in a private house in Maryland. There the future federal judge, with help from another boy, forced the girl into a bedroom. There he pressed her with his body onto the bed, held her mouth closed with his hand, and laughed uproariously at her struggles. Somehow—again according to her—she escaped.
How would she come to attend such a house party with boys from Georgetown Prep? Why did three persons she named, including her lifelong friend, fail to corroborate her story? Why did she put on a one-piece swimsuit underneath her clothing before going to this party? Rachel Mitchell, head of the Special Victims Unit at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, Arizona, grilled Ford on this and other issues. Among them: why does she profess a fear of flying while still managing to fly often, professionally and on personal errands? Last night Mitchell gave her opinion of Ford’s testimony to all fifty-one Republican Senators. (See also here.) Her opinion: she would not charge any man on such an accusation. She would not even seek a search warrant.
Kavanaugh defends himself
That afternoon, Justice Kavanaugh came in to defend himself. By turns boiling with rage and choking back tears, he vehemently denied all allegations. He accused the Senate of “turn[ing] ‘advise and consent’ to ‘search and destroy.’” He lamented that he might never be able to teach again (as a guest lecturer) at Harvard Law School, or to coach girls’ basketball, as he often does for the teams on which his daughters play. And for that he laid the blame squarely on the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Senators, of course, took exception to that. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in particular took personal offense at his charge that she had “sprung” the allegations on him. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) tried to order him to ask the White House Counsel’s Office attorney to ask to postpone the vote. He definitely refused, saying he would defer to the Chairman (Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa).
Chairman Grassley at that point reprimanded Sen. Durbin for daring presume upon the authority of the chair. “I’m running this hearing, not you,” he said.
Three damning facts
Then he gave the floor to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C).
Who then elicited three key facts from Justice Kavanaugh:
- Kavanaugh did not know that, within minutes of his nomination, Senator Charles M. Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to oppose his nomination. Sen. Schumer is, of course, the Democratic Floor Leader.
- Nor did Kavanaugh know that Sen. Feinstein, when she grilled him in her office, had already recommended that Dr. Ford retain the Katz Law Firm. Debbie Katz is a known associate of rogue financier George Soros, famous for currency arbitrage and soft coups d’etat.
- Most tellingly, Kavanaugh knew nothing of Dr. Ford’s “confidential” letter. That interview took place in July. And Senator Feinstein did not see fit to mention those allegations.
The outburst of the century
Whereupon Senator Graham lambasted his Democratic colleagues as no one had ever lambasted them before.
If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us. What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You said that. Not me.
[To Kavanaugh] You have nothing to apologize for. When you see [Mmes JJ Sonia] Sotomayor and [Elena] Kagan, tell them that Lindsay says “hello.” Because I voted for all (sic) of them.
[Back to the Democratic side of the dais] I would never do to them what you’ve done to this guy. This has been the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. And if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as h*** wouldn’t do what you’ve done to this guy…You knew about it, and you held it [back].
Proving him correct
Ironically, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) would prove Graham correct this morning. In detailing his objections to Kavanaugh, he spent as much time on the real issue as on the Ford allegation. And what was that real issue? That he does not want a Justice Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. For Kavanaugh might provide yet another vote to:
- Overturn Roe v. Wade on a sufficiently broad challenge.
- Overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, or weaken it by reasserting freedom of association for heterosexual people.
- Revisit Florida ex rel. Bondi et al. v. Sebelius and thus negate the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
- Uphold the executive decisions of President Donald J. Trump.
Likewise, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) laid on a performance even more maudlin than that of Christine Ford. “Merrick Garland!” she blubbed out to her fellow Members, intending a reproach of the Republican Members.
Indeed several Democrats accused Republicans of turning the Senate into an enforcement arm for President Trump.
Breaking unwritten rules
When Senator Graham had another chance to speak, he also touched on the real issue. Brett Kavanaugh would replace Anthony Kennedy and thus turn a swing vote into a conservative one. That one fact has caused the Democrats to violate a number of unwritten rules. Obviously Graham took personally the violation of the unwritten Senatorial Mutual Respect Rule. Yesterday he accused Senator Feinstein of conduct unbecoming a Senator, on two counts:
- Failure to share an actionable complaint with fellow Members, who could then have referred the matter to proper authority.
- Surreptitiously releasing, or causing or allowing the release, of confidential information, to wit: Dr. Ford’s original written complaint.
Who leaked the letter?
With regard to the latter, Graham seemed to qualify that accusation. He pointed out what Ford herself said. She wrote a letter to her Representative in Congress (Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.- 18th) asking her to forward it to Senator Feinstein. Senator Feinstein advised her to “lawyer up,” and recommended the Katz Law Firm. Only the offices of Rep. Eshoo and Sen. Feinstein, and the Katz Law Firm offices, had copies of the letter. So how and from whom did “gentlemen of the press” get a copy? Graham is not prepared to assert positively that it came from Sen. Feinstein or her staff. In this he is correct, for all three offices had a motive for the leak. And what was that motive? To derail the Kavanaugh nomination, after conventional attempts to derail it had failed.
George C. Scott, as Asst. Atty. Gen. Claude Danzer: We’re over a barrel, Mitch. We have to use [a questionable last-minute witness].
From Anatomy of a Murder, produced and directed by Otto Preminger. With James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott, Orson Bean, Arthur O’Connell, Eve Arden, and Joseph N. Welch. Columbia Pictures, 1959.
Senator Graham had one other remark to make. To Martha MacCallum of Fox News, he said he already talked to the FBI. And they said they could not possibly investigate this matter any further. (As indeed how could they, with no physical evidence to speak of?)
Kavanaugh’s nomination now goes to the full Senate. At last report, Floor Leader McConnell has scheduled a floor vote in a rare Saturday session.2
But the Republicans must now realize a fundamental fact voters have known for at least two years. Until recent history, Republicans and Democrats ran Congress like two rival but cordial political machines. After every election, they would renegotiate territories. But today the game is different. Indeed it is no longer a game; it is war. (And the Democrats fight long-term. Already they talk of removing a Justice Kavanaugh from the bench on impeachment.)
The Democrats play for keeps, and don’t care whom they must hurt. They keep no agreements they make. Behind their high-sounding rhetoric lies one salient fact. Which is: democracy consists of two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.
Other contributors to CNAV have often said America has the Senate (and House) it deserves. Behavior such as the country has lately seen, should constitute grounds for expulsion from the Senate. But the Constitution requires two-thirds of the membership to expel a member.
Graham’s further words
That, however, makes Senator Graham’s words no less true. Yesterday’s hearing was a travesty of justice and of Senate process.
All I can say is we’re 40-something days away from the elections and their goal — not Ms. Ford’s goal — is to lay this past the midterms, so they can win the Senate. I heard a bunch of speeches from a bunch of politicians who politicized this from day one, who’ve been lying in wait since day one, not Ms. Ford but them.
If this becomes the new standard, where you have an accusation for weeks, you drop it right before the hearing, you withhold from the committee a chance to do this in a professional, timely fashion when they publicly say that their goal is to delay the vote … I don’t want to reward that kind of behavior. If that’s enough for you, God help us. … This happens to us, it never happens to them. But let me talk to my Democratic friends: If this is the new norm, you better watch out for your nominees.
1Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced he would demand of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a delay of the vote. He proposes that the FBI investigate all allegations against Kavanaugh for not more than one week. Senator Flake must know that the FBI has compromised itself. He does not even have any amicable understanding with any Democrats. Furthermore, a week’s delay would cause Kavanaugh to miss his first Friday Morning Meeting of the Court. What cases might fail of certiorari on account of his absence, only the Court knows. Stay tuned.
2What Senator Flake will demand, or how hard he will press that demand, one can only speculate.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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