The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Advise and Dissent: A Question of Character

Judge Brett Kavanaugh in his opening statement this evening established beyond doubt that he will not be capable of serving as a Justice of the Supreme Court:
This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars and money from outside left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque and coordinated character assassination will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from serving our country, and as we all know, in the United States political system of the early 2000s, what goes around, comes around.
How can any party aligned with the Democratic Party or liberal causes appearing before Justice Kavanaugh--if he is confirmed--even pretend to believe that they are appearing before a neutral? In a closely divided Court, where most of the "big" cases will be decided on a 5-4 vote, Kavanaugh's vote will not carry legitimacy in the eyes of those who lose. That's a problem for the Court, which is itself becoming increasingly perceived as partisan, and, as a recent study has found, indeed appears to be ruling in a more partisan way even in the previously neutral area of free speech:
Ideology is not a significant predictor of votes—indicating no meaningful difference between liberal and conservative justices for conservative expression. The gap only emerges when the speech falls into a liberal grouping, as indicated by the positive Justice Ideology Liberal Speech. That is, the difference between liberal and conservative justices grows larger when the speech originates from a liberal enclave. Notice too that Liberal Speech is negative and significant, suggesting that conservative justices are less likely to support liberal speech than conservative speech.
And indeed, 4 of the 9 have recently indicted their fellow members of the Court on just such grounds, in National Institute of Life Advocates v. Beccaria:
If a State can lawfully require a doctor to tell a woman seeking an abortion about adoption services, why should it not be able, as here, to require a medical counselor to tell a woman seeking prenatal care or other reproductive healthcare about childbirth and abortion services? As the question suggests, there is no convincing reason to distinguish between information about adoption and information about abortion in this context. After all, the rule of law embodies evenhandedness, and “what is sauce for the goose is normally sauce for the gander.”
The Court is at a point where its own members are questioning its impartiality and its commitment to the Constitution which it is tasked with protecting. This is, quite simply, quite dangerous.

Kavanaugh's open contempt for the Democratic senators was striking--he tried to turn the tables more than once, and ask his questioners the questions they asked him. This was especially jarring in his blatant disrespect toward Senator Amy Klobuchar:
Kavanaugh's drinking as a high school and college student has become a line of questioning in a hearing about sexual assault allegations made against him. The Minnesota Democrat addressed her father's own struggle with alcoholism during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, including the fact that her father still attends Alcoholics Anonymous as age 90 to combat his struggle. She then asked Kavanaugh if he had ever drank so much he "didn't remember what happened the night before or part of what happened."
"You're asking about blackout, I don't know, have you?" he responded.
"Could you answer the question, judge?" Klobuchar said, looking somewhat surprised by the response. "So, you have, that's not happened? Is that your answer."
"Yeah, and I'm curious if you have," he added.
While he did apologize to Klobuchar (though not to the other senators he interrupted, and quizzed as though he were the judge, Kavanaugh's nastiness and presumptuousness--demonstrated that he is a bully and a partisan--just what you don't want in a member of the United States Supreme Court. (He similarly repeatedly asked Senator Whitehouse if he liked beer, after testifying that he did.) At times, he was, in my opinion, patently lying (the "Renate alumnus" testimony, in particular rang brazenly false), squirming away from questions, filibustering to avoid them. Kavanaugh's repeated refusals to request an FBI investigation does not bode well, either--he seemed desperate to avoid a closer look at his past. When Dick Durbin pinned him down, he simply rolled his eyes and sat in silence.

Finally, I cannot write about this without saying something about the compelling, heart wrenching testimony of Christine Blasey Ford. I felt utterly nauseous as I listened to her and watching the Republican men on the committee viewing her with overt indifference and as a speed bump to roll over. Simply, Dr. Ford was brave, credible--and ignored by the majority. It was a dreadful spectacle, and while Dr. Ford presented her account with grace and strength, the reactions in the room suggest that even if they acknowledge the truth in their hearts, these men will ram through this nominee.

The institutions we rely on are creaking.


Mitchell H. Rubinstein said...

Clarence Thomas all over again. But fundamentally, we also have to remember that we should not make decisions based upon mere allegations. My bigger question is why Mark Judge was not called. The committee has subpoena power and can judge his credibility

Anglocat said...

I'd suggest that sworn direct eyewitness testimony is not "mere allegations," though I am glad to see a proper investigation may be done.

That said, even if he's exonerated by the FBI, I think his testimony yesterday shows that he should not be confirmed, for lack of judicial temperament, as amply displayed in his behavior.

Ryan Carey said...

Well said, old friend.

Anglocat said...

Thanks, Ryan—and good to hear from you!

Karla said...

Very thoughtful bloog