Three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan nominated a pre-eminent legal mind and unabashed constitutionalist Robert C. Bork. A Yale Law School professor with impeccable credentials, including a seat on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Bork faced an unprecedented buzzsaw of contention and condemnation not just from Democrats, but the press and Hollywood.
US Senator Ted Kennedy read a smear-filled speech against Bork’s confirmation, infamously referred to as “Robert Bork’s America.” Ironically, Kennedy’s tirade against Bork referenced policy decisions implemented by Democratic politicians, including forced segregation, the retraction of civil rights, and police abuses against citizens. Reagan’s Republican Party didn’t handle the media and political onslaught, and Bork’s confirmation failed and not just along party lines. The stark failure of a pre-eminent jurist to receive a seat on the Supreme Court demonstrated that Republican measures to appoint conservative, constitutional originalists to the United States Supreme Court would face not just a double-standard on extreme vetting, but an unprecedented assault on their character and their personal lives.
Thirty years later, with President Donald Trump in office, it looks as if Republicans have learned their lesson. Donald Trump overcame the steep media harassment which sought to derail his election in 2016. In fact, the more the media attacked the President, the better his chances grew, it seemed. Part of his winning campaign included the list of conservative jurists whom he would consider for nomination to the United States Supreme Court. Trump knew how to take on the media then, and he put the screws to the media with this list. He shored up support with worried evangelicals, plus he established trustworthy credentials with other conservatives worried about his commitment to Republican principles.
His first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, passed through unsightly lines of questioning from Democratic US Senators. Their unjust determination to stonewall a well-qualified jurist fell apart when the Republican majority nuked the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, simply following the pattern set by former Senate Majority leader Harry Reid in 2013 with appellate nominees. Gorsuch was one constitutionalist replacing another constitutional originalist.
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For all intents and purposes, Democrats overplayed their hand. They should not have blocked this nomination, but allowed it to go through and save their political capital for other nominees. This partisan folly has hurt their cause in more ways than they will ever know.
Now we have Brett Kavanaugh, a United States DC Court of Appeals jurist with a long, stories, respected, pedigree. His well-written political opinions sparked little interest from the Democratic minority. They focused on his private life, then they went after his political associations. From the outset, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he and his caucus would do everything in their power to stop Kavanaugh.
The nomination process is now excessively politicized. The Democrats have destroyed any credibility on this matter. This Democratic attempt to derail President Trump’s duly established role as chief executive, and the US Senate’s role of “Advise and Consent” has turned into a search-and-destroy circus. Will there be any hope of ending this perverse disregard for the rule of law?
Perhaps. Justice Kavanaugh has displayed an impress judicial temperament. He has demonstrated through solid political research and writing his skill at analyzing law and responding to federal court cases. He has shown proven integrity as a private citizen and public figure. His family contains a long legal pedigree. No matter what the Democrats tried to do, they could not dispute his qualifications.
Now they have resorted to pursuing spurious allegations of sexual misconduct in order to derail this nominee. It is nothing short of disgusting. Christine Ford brings forth these purported sexual assault charges from decades ago, when she and Brett were in high school. The charges have gone from harrowing to laughable. One accuser stated that Kavanaugh was involved in gang rape. The attorney in charge of another matter, Michael Avenatti, represented washed-up porn slut Stormy Daniels. Those attacks against Trump went nowhere. Avenatti wants in on the corrupt anti-Kavanaugh action, too? Unbelievable.
With the Kavanaugh nomination, a different kind of political maelstrom is emerging. In the past, Supreme Court nominees were “borked”, that is slandered heinously by the ideological opposites in hopes of scuttling a terrible nomination. In those days, with Reagan at the helm of divided government. Robert Bork was slammed inexorably because of his consistent constitutionalism, and thus his inevitably conservative views. The Roe v. Wade precedent faced possible overturning with Bork.
That fate awaits that poorly decided decision once again should Kavanaugh become the next Supreme Court justice. His 307 written opinions outline a clearly pro-America, sovereign guidance on a number of issues, including life. Precedents have been respected and rejected in differing number
Borking Kavanaugh didn’t work, in that the Democratic US Senator minority could not attack his political or judicial philosophy with any seriousness this time. The Republican Party conference, or at least the phalanx of conservatives fighting for this latest nomination, now understand the stakes and the depraved lengths to which the Democratic Party will go to shut down future nominees.
This nominee has been “Kavanaugh-ed”, in that the ideological opposition on the US Senate has resorted to every personal, private slander and allegation of impropriety to stop his nomination or scuttle his confirmation. This process was played out to a less extent during Judge Douglas Ginsburg’s nomination hearings. Reagan nominated Ginsburg after Bork, but he withdrew because he “inhaled”. Let’s not forget the “high-tech lynching” that Clarence Thomas endured.
These irreverent, heinous, salacious attacks have hit such a height, however, that they deserve their own moniker. Because of their outlandish nature, however, they will backfire spectacularly. This perverse lawlessness has turned off moderate Democratic voters while engaging Republicans to get out there and vote. Dianne Feinstein may have saved her seat, but she cost her party any chance of winning the House or the US Senate. Perhaps in the near future, Supreme Court nominees should look forward to being “Kavanaugh-ed”. It almost certainly guarantees the confirmation going forward.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.