Despite massive opposition, Republicans are set to confirm the most unpopular judicial nominee in American history

More than 2,400 law professors sign letter opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation:

Signatories included Martha Minow — the former dean of Harvard Law School, where Kavanaugh taught a popular course — other law school deans and former deans, and some scholars who previously supported Kavanaugh.

“As someone who knew and liked Brett Kavanaugh when we clerked together, I have tried very hard to stay out of this process and to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School. But Kavanaugh’s behavior at the hearing last week “was not what we should expect of a Supreme Court Justice. Telling obvious lies about his background, yelling at senators, refusing to answer questions, and blaming his troubles on others is not appropriate behavior.”

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Another letter, signed by about 900 female law professors, asked the Senate to reject Kavanaugh’s appointment. As a law professor, “it is my responsibility to teach my students the highest standards of professionalism and decorum,” Karla McKanders, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School, said in an email. “Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony undermines the legal profession and would undermine the authority of the Supreme Court.”

In an unprecedented move, life-long Republican and Former Justice John Paul Stevens said Judge Kavanaugh is not qualified to sit on the court:

Justice Stevens said he came to the conclusion reluctantly, changing his mind about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination after the second round of the judge’s confirmation hearings last week. Judge Kavanaugh’s statements at those hearings, Justice Stevens said, revealed prejudices that would make it impossible for him to do the court’s work, a point he said had been made by prominent commentators.

“They suggest that he has demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential litigants before the court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities,” Justice Stevens said in remarks to retirees in Boca Raton, Fla. “And I think there is merit in that criticism and that the senators should really pay attention to it.”

“For the good of the court,” he said, “it’s not healthy to get a new justice that can only do a part-time job.”

The American Bar Association, which requested a Delay in Kavanaugh confirmation until FBI investigates assault allegations, had previously expressed oncerns about Kavanaugh 12 years ago. Republicans dismissed those, too.

The group’s judicial investigator had recently interviewed dozens of lawyers, judges and others who had worked with Kavanaugh, the ABA announced at the time, and some of them raised red flags about “his professional experience and the question of his freedom from bias and open-mindedness.”

“One interviewee remained concerned about the nominee’s ability to be balanced and fair should he assume a federal judgeship,” the ABA committee chairman wrote to senators in 2006. “Another interviewee echoed essentially the same thoughts: ‘(He is) immovable and very stubborn and frustrating to deal with on some issues.’”

A particular judge had told the ABA that Kavanaugh had been “sanctimonious” during an oral argument in court. Several lawyers considered him inexperienced, and one said he “dissembled” in the courtroom.

In the end, the ABA committee weighed Kavanaugh’s “solid reputation for integrity, intellectual capacity, and writing and analytical ability” against “concern over whether this nominee is so insulated that he will be unable to judge fairly in the future.” In a split vote, it downgraded the rating of the nominee to simply “qualified” — meaning he met the ABA’s standards to become a judge but was not necessarily an outstanding candidate.

So America’s legal community says “No” on Judge Kavanaugh.

America’s religious community — not the televangelical grifters who preach the prosperity gospel to enrich themselves and who make up the Christian Nationalist and Dominionist religious right which supports the pussy-grabber-in-chief because “anything goes” as long as they get what they want: overturning Roe v. Wade and imposing a theocracy — is also a “No” on Judge Kavanaugh. The National Council of Churches makes a rare statement to oppose Kavanaugh:

The National Council of Churches, an umbrella organization representing dozens of Protestant denominations, usually steers clear of Supreme Court nominations.

When Republican senators refused to hold a vote on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, the NCC did not say a word. When President Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch and the Senate confirmed him, the NCC stayed silent.

But on Wednesday, the NCC broke its silence on Brett M. Kavanaugh, Trump’s latest nominee whose confirmation process is causing a deep rift across the nation and in many of the churches the NCC includes.

“We believe he has disqualified himself from this lifetime appointment and must step aside immediately,” the group, which represents about 30 million U.S. parishioners, wrote in a statement. “During his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Kavanaugh exhibited extreme partisan bias and disrespect toward certain members of the committee and thereby demonstrated that he possesses neither the temperament nor the character essential for a member of the highest court in our nation. We are deeply disturbed by the multiple allegations of sexual assault and call for a full and unhindered investigation of these accusations. In addition, his testimony before the Judiciary Committee included several misstatements and some outright falsehoods.”

Jim Winkler, the president and general secretary of the NCC who authorized the statement, said Thursday he hopes and believes members of Congress will take notice, as they prepare to vote on the nominee. “Many have told me, ‘We definitely pay attention to what the faith community says,’” Winkler said.

Don’t hold your breath, preacher.

The New York Times editorializes today How Brett Kavanaugh Failed:

In this crucible of power politics, of bullying and posturing and rage, no one has been more severely tested than Judge Kavanaugh. If he believes himself innocent of sexual assault — if he is innocent of sexual assault — the test, to him, can only appear monstrous.

Yet unfair as the test might seem to the judge and his supporters, senators who want to preserve the credibility of the Supreme Court cannot now look away from the result: Judge Kavanaugh failed, decisively.

How? First, he gave misleading answers under oath. Judges — particularly Supreme Court justices — must have, and be seen as having, unimpeachable integrity. The knuckleheaded mistakes of a young person — drinking too much, writing offensive things in a high school yearbook — should not in themselves be bars to high office. But deliberately misleading senators about them during a confirmation process has to be. If Judge Kavanaugh will lie about small things, won’t he lie about big ones as well?

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Second, confronted with the accusations against him, Judge Kavanaugh made recourse not to reason and methodical process, but to fury and the rawest partisanship. Judges — particularly Supreme Court justices — must strive to be, and be seen as, above politics. As Judge Kavanaugh said in a 2015 speech, “to be a good judge and a good umpire, it’s important to have the proper demeanor.” He added: “To keep our emotions in check. To be calm amidst the storm. On the bench, to put it in the vernacular, don’t be a jerk.”

Wise words. He wasn’t able to live by them when it mattered. At last week’s hearing, Judge Kavanaugh was a jerk.

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Was Judge Kavanaugh truly out of control, in rage and pain, as he appeared, or had he calculated that a partisan attack would rally President Trump and Republican senators to his side, as it did? (We all know he was capable of a more temperate response to the accusations: He’d demonstrated that just a couple of nights earlier, in his interview with Fox News.) For purposes of Senate confirmation, it shouldn’t matter. Such a lack of self-control, or such open and radical partisanship, ought to be unacceptable in a judge.

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Judges are human beings, not ideological blank slates, but the American legal system depends on their being fair and open-minded to all who come before them. Judge Kavanaugh failed to show that he can do this, or that he even would want to.

That’s a disappointment, but maybe not a surprise to anyone who knew of his life before he joined the bench. He was a fierce Republican warrior in some of the most politically charged battles of the past two decades — including the investigation that led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, in which he sought to expose the most intimate details of Mr. Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. He also played a role in the most controversial policies of the George W. Bush administration, including the torture of detainees and warrantless wiretapping. (How much of a role we may never learn, since Senate Republicans still refuse to release more than 90 percent of the documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s work in the Bush administration.)

While many of Judge Kavanaugh’s defenders leapt to exonerate him of sexual assault or excused his rage-bender as understandable, virtually no one has tried to deny his rank partisanship. Yet after last week’s testimony, how could any self-identified Democrat, or leftist, or sexual-assault victim, or anyone who is not identifiable as a Republican, expect to get a fair shake from a Justice Kavanaugh? If he is confirmed, that will pose a profound problem for the court.

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He is not … entitled to a seat on the Supreme Court. Republican senators have repeatedly said they respected Dr. Blasey and were sympathetic to her; but to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh now is to declare that her accusations mean nothing.

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This confirmation battle has been awful for everyone. It has exposed to the country a depth of partisan grievance and connivance within the Senate that should embarrass and worry every American. It is a terrible reality that, at this point, either confirmation or rejection of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination by a narrow and overwhelmingly partisan margin will dismay and anger millions of Americans. But only by voting no, by asking Mr. Trump to send someone else for it to consider, can the Senate pass its test of institutional character and meet its obligation to safeguard the credibility of the Supreme Court.

The Washington Post editorializes today, Vote ‘no’ on Kavanaugh:

Unfortunately — and unnecessarily; it didn’t have to be this way — too many questions remain about his history for senators to responsibly vote “yes.” At the same time, enough has been learned about his partisan instincts that we believe senators must vote “no.”

We do not say so lightly. We have not opposed a Supreme Court nominee, liberal or conservative, since Robert H. Bork in 1987. We believe presidents are entitled to significant deference if they nominate well-qualified people within the broad mainstream of judicial thought. When President Trump named Mr. Kavanaugh, he seemed to be such a person: an accomplished judge whom any conservative president might have picked. But given Republicans’ refusal to properly vet Mr. Kavanaugh, and given what we have learned about him during the process, we now believe it would be a serious blow to the court and the nation if he were confirmed.

One element of the GOP vetting failure has been all but forgotten in the drama over alleged sexual assaults, but it remains for us a serious shortcoming. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to ask for all the potentially relevant documents from his time serving in the George W. Bush White House. The reason was not principled but political: Though they had kept a Supreme Court seat vacant for most of 2016, they wanted to ram through Mr. Kavanaugh before this year’s midterm elections. Those documents, which could have been processed without crippling delay, might end up supporting his case, or they might not; we have no idea. But any responsible senator should insist on seeing them before casting a vote.

It certainly would have been preferable if Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation had surfaced sooner, and then been investigated more promptly. But what matters now is not partisan fault but finding the truth about her claim — or at least making as fair and thorough an effort to find it as possible. Mr. Trump and the Republicans have prevented such an effort. This week’s belated investigation, reluctantly agreed to by the majority, was unduly narrow. Unsurprisingly, Senate Republicans quickly and unconvincingly claimed that it was exculpatory. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to his conclusion before even this cursory examination was complete.

We continue to believe that Ms. Ford is a credible witness with no motivation to lie. It is conceivable that she and Mr. Kavanaugh are both being truthful, in the sense that he has no memory of the event. It is also conceivable that Ms. Ford’s memory is at fault. We wish the FBI had been allowed to probe Mr. Kavanaugh’s credibility more fully. But our conclusion about Mr. Kavanaugh’s fitness does not rest on believing one side or the other.

If Mr. Kavanaugh truly is, or believes himself to be, a victim of mistaken identity, his anger is understandable. But he went further in last Thursday’s hearing than expressing anger. He gratuitously indulged in hyperpartisan rhetoric against “the left,” describing his stormy confirmation as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election” and “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” He provided neither evidence nor even a plausible explanation for this red-meat partisanship, but he poisoned any sense that he could serve as an impartial judge. Democrats or liberal activists would have no reason to trust in his good faith in any cases involving politics. Even beyond such cases, his judgment and temperament would be in doubt.

Such doubts feed into concerns about Mr. Kavanaugh’s independence from Mr. Trump and his deference to executive power, at a moment when fateful questions for the presidency may be winding their way to the court. Mr. Kavanaugh began his confirmation process by bowing obsequiously to Mr. Trump, claiming, absurdly, that “no president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” Mr. Kavanaugh then declined to offer much reassurance about how he would handle cases involving Mr. Trump. Given his writings arguing that a president should be free of criminal investigations while in office, it would be best for the court’s reputation for Mr. Kavanaugh to recuse himself from any such case, lest it appear that Mr. Trump chose him in order to foil the Justice Department’s Russia probe. If not a commitment to recuse, he should have offered more of a sense that he would treat the issue with due delicacy.

Finally, Mr. Kavanaugh raised questions about his candor that, while each on its own is not disqualifying, are worrying in the context of his demand that Ms. Ford and his other accusers be dismissed and disbelieved. These include his role in the nomination of controversial judge Charles Pickering while working for Mr. Bush, his knowledge of the origin of materials stolen from Democratic Senate staff between 2001 and 2003, and his lawyerly obfuscations about his high school and college years.

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[T]he reason not to vote for Mr. Kavanaugh is that senators have not been given sufficient information to consider him — and that he has given them ample evidence to believe he is unsuited for the job. The country deserves better.

Yes it does. But here we are. This is a tragedy for democracy, the courts, and the rule of law brought on by crypto-fascist authoritarian Tea-Publicans hellbent on the exercise of raw political power. This is how democracy dies.





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One response to “Despite massive opposition, Republicans are set to confirm the most unpopular judicial nominee in American history

  1. Unbelievable!