I used to think that the way Texas seated judges was the worst.
Last week, watching the steam pour from Brett Kavanaugh ears, I changed my mind.
Our nation’s founders had what appeared to be a great idea – lifetime, presumably nonpartisan, appointments based on Senate confirmation. That concept has become irredeemably poisoned.
Should Kavanaugh ascend to the Supreme Court, he forever will be the embodiment of that toxicity, and it will have nothing to do with alleged sexual offenses.
I used to consider Texas’ direct election of judges to be the worst possible method of populating the bench. I wrote it, oh, 100 times. The system made judicial positions too political, too dependent on campaign cash and raw voter ignorance. At its worst, it made judges pander to the masses.
That was bad. But to then hear Kavanaugh call the questions he now faces part of a “calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger” and “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” and to see the Republican-controlled committee advance his nomination to the floor, I decided, “No, this is far worse.”
Kavanaugh’s partisan rant should disqualify him from the lifetime post he seeks. That post requires independence and dispassion about the parties that might appear before the court. He just showed his hand. He sprang a sprocket before our eyes. Like the president who appointed him, Kavanaugh is unfit.
Kavanaugh is entitled to think what he thinks, just not to think it on the Supreme Court. .
As for Kavanaugh’s “partisan hit” claim, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford not only was highly credible in describing the assault she suffered. She also should have convinced anyone with ears that her coming forward was no favor to any political party.
So far, Kavanaugh has done a serviceable job of keeping his story straight. His defenders? Not at all. They can’t decide whether to vouch for his virginal nature or whether this is much ado about youthful hi jinks – “the politicization of one’s adolescence,” as one conservative commentator lamented.
Republican Senate nominee Kevin Cramer of North Dakota dismissed the charges as trivial – just two drunk teens, and, “It didn’t go anywhere.”
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King offered the every-able-bodied-male-does-that defense: that if Kavanaugh gets rejected over these concerns, “No man will ever qualify for the Supreme Court again.”
Hey, guys: “Everybody does it” — even as weak and poisonously cynical as it is –doesn’t happen to be Kavanaugh’s defense. It’s, “I didn’t do it.” Curiously, he hasn’t sold that line to a polygraph like Dr. Ford has.
Now, were Kavanaugh confirmed, what potentially looms with allegations by multiple women against him is a perjury rap.
Back to the toxicity of this process, particularly under a toxic president. When President Obama nominated the plain vanilla eminence of Judge Merrick Garland, Obama didn’t preen around saying he would deliver meat to his snarling base with his choice.
With Kavanaugh, Trump delivered the venison.
The fact that the GOP classified material about the judge’s political positions on matters that would appear before the court bespoke the tenor of this appointment.
Kavanaugh said Senate Democrats were trying to “Bork” him. He sees this episode from Bork’s point of view instead of that of a Senate that questioned extreme writings about civil rights including the 14th Amendment and the right of privacy. Bork was rejected because of a hard-right judicial philosophy the Senate deemed out of the mainstream. Judicial philosophy is not what has delivered Kavanaugh to an FBI probe of alleged sexual assaults.
The Constitution Center says “The verb ‘bork’ is used as slang, to ‘defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.’
After Kavanaugh’s appearance on national television Thursday, it appears he has Borked himself.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.