The US Senate confirmed President Trumps nomination of Brett ot the Supreme Court on October 6th, 2018. Kavanaugh replaces Justice Kennedy who retired in June and was considered the swing vote on the court. Kavanaugh’s judicial record is more conservative than that of Kennedy.
The US Senate by a vote of 50 to 48 confirmed the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court. The vote came after the most contentious confirmation debate in recent American history. Kavanaugh was nominated after Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy of Savannah had clerked for retired in June. Kennedy was considered the swing vote on the court voting conservative on most issues but taking a more liberal position on topics such as gay rights. Kavanaugh who had been a Yale undergraduate and law school graduate after clerking for Justice Kennedy worked for four years as a lawyer in the Bush White House before being nominated for the US District where he served as a judge for 16 years.
Kavanaugh was on the original lists of judges that President Trump had put forth when he ran and is a member of the Federalist Society. When his name was announced, the pick was strongly opposed by the Democrats. An early issue in the confirmation hearings where tens of thousands of documents from the period that Kavanaugh served in the Bush White House that were not provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee that reviewed the nomination. However, the minorities ability to delay or stop a nomination had been all but destroyed by both Republicans and Democrats who had eliminated the rules that allowed for a filibuster in the nominating process.
It looked that despite the unified Democratic opposition Kavanaugh was going to be confirmed without too much difficulty. However, a Professor of Psychology at Palo Alto College Dr. Christine Blassey Ford came reported that when both she and Kavanaugh was in College Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her. A number of additional women came forward and claimed that Kavanaugh had not acted appropriately After a few days of discussion the Republican Chairman of the Judiciary Committee agreed to reopen the hearing and hear from both Dr. Ford and Justice Kavanaugh about the charges. The Republican on the Committee decided to hire an outside woman counsel to ask Dr. Ford questions. The hearing was held on September 27th. She gave compelling testimony that convinced many that she was telling the truth. At the end of her testimony even right-wing media sources said Kavanaugh was done. However, after Ford’s testimony Kavanaugh testified and gave an angry partisan speech claiming that the attacks on him were part of a partisan witch hunt. Kavanaugh speech seemed to galvanize the Republican on the committee who started speaking in support of Kavanaugh. The next day there was an expectation that the committee would vote to approve the nomination and send to the Senate. At the last moment, Senator Flak stated that he would vote in favor of sending it to the Senate but only on the condition that the FBI would do an additional background check on Kavanaugh. The White House agreed and a limited FBI investigation which interviewed nine witnesses. The results of the investigation which were not shared with the public and secretly shared with the Senators did not bring to light any new corroborating evidence of Dr. Ford's allegations. The Democrats and Ford’s lawyers complained bitterly that a full investigation of Judge Kavanaugh had not been done. Many questions remained unanswered including issues of whether the Judge had been wholly truthful during his testimony. The critical Republican Senator whose views were unknown until the end were Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and retiring Senator Flake of Arizona. In the final vote, Murkowski was the only Republican who opposed the nominee. The final vote was 50-48 with one Democrat voting in Kavanuah’s favor. It was the closest vote since 1881 when a vote of 24 to 23 confirmed justice Stanley Matthews.
Kavanaugh Confirmed to Supreme Court
Given what happened during the confirmation process, this is a significant event in current history. Here are some thoughts.
Cases Not Causes
There is a big difference between a cause and a case. It is the difference between the general and the specific.
- General: Murder is wrong robbery is wrong extortion is wrong embezzlement is wrong and rape is wrong, too.
- Specific: The individual that is accused on committing one of those specific crimes may be innocent of doing that.
- Question: If the accused are all guilty, then why do we have trials at all?
Whenever a defendant in a murder trial is found innocent does that automatically mean that murder is ignored? Is it possible that the wrong man was accused and someone else did the crime? Remember that one of the principal arguments against capital punishment is that there have been so many cases where the wrong man was convicted.
Back to sexual assault: Could the wrong man have been convicted in the court of Democratic Party opinion in this case?
Weapons Not Causes
The folks that supported the Clintons against the women who accused him of sexual harassment and, in Juanita Broderick’s case, outright rape, are now against Bret Kavanaugh. – And vice versa.
Were those women just a part of “a vast right-wing conspiracy” as Hillary Clinton claimed at the time?
To the extent that the #MeToo Movement is weaponized against Republicans, this will increase skepticism in future cases, especially when Republicans are targeted, and that skepticism will come from both men and women.
Making #MeToo another weapon in a politician’s bag of tricks hurts both the target and the women making accusations. Insisting that #MeToo should be a cause instead of a weapon will keep the whole nation unite behind it.
Credibility Issues Good Not So
It has been repeated over and over that the principal accuser, Dr. Ford, was a credible witness. But was she? If women are equal and are to be treated equally, then should not their testimony be treated equally to men’s testimony?
Here are some problems with Dr. Ford’s testimony:
- She passed a lie detector test. As a Professor of Psychology she advised at least one other person on how to beat a lie-detector. So, how big a deal that Dr. Ford passed a lie-detector test?
- She did not want to testify to the Senate Committee because she claimed to be afraid of flying. Since that claim was made, it became known that she had flown often throughout the USA and even overseas. How could she not have remembered that when she made that claim?
- She did not know that the Senate Committee had offered to travel to her own town to interview her. How could she not have remembered that?
Both of these last two claims were made through her lawyers. How could any lawyers make such claims on a client’s behalf without their client’s knowledge and consent? — Malpractice? — Or does Dr. Ford just have a terrible memory – even of events in the last few weeks?
Survivors may not remember many things but it takes a special kind of stupid not to remember that a Senate Committee has offered to travel to one’s town to interview oneself. – Especially in the recent past. – Especially when this offer was the #1 news item for days.
Job Interviews Not Trials
Is this how Americans seeking employment can be expect to be treated in the future? — Accusations alone can sink one’s prospects and not a search for the truth?
Bret Kavanaugh Not Merrick Garland
At the time (2016) that Garland’s appointment was active it seemed that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump and then be able to appoint a more left-wing person than Garland to the Court. I remember that I believed that Clinton would win and that the Republicans had made a mistake in not confirming “the devil they knew” rather than the one they did not.
The Republicans stalled Merrick Garland based on a claimed principal, not on character accusations. In his interview on Fox News this morning, Mitch McConnell backed off that principal he claimed to have as regards future occurrences of appointments in a Presidential Election Year. Shame on him for that.
On the other hand, Donald Trump himself has waged personal attacks on multiple people. A few examples:
- His attacks on Ted Cruz’s wife.
- His attacks on Ted Cruz’s father. The accusation that the father was involved with the John Kennedy murder was ridiculous.
- He repeatedly said that if elected he was going to throw Hillary Clinton in jail.
And, of course, there were many more personal attacks by Donald Trump. Shame on him, too, for that. Note how these personal attacks have diminished his credibility and his public approval despite other good actions on his part.
Will those who continue the personal attacks on Kavanaugh suffer the same consequences as Donald Trump has?
Documents Produced Not Produced
The trouble was that there were so very many documents to examine. Kavanaugh’s government career had been at the highest levels so very long that the following statements are now both true:
- More documents were produced for this nominee than for the last three nominees combined.
- More documents were not produced for this nominee than for the last three nominees combined.
The most important documents were his past rulings and dissents during his many years as a judge.
FBI Investigation Enough Not Enough
There were only a limited number of witnesses that could have provided first-hand information relevant to Dr. Ford’s accusation. They were all interviewed. The other two accusations were not credible. (Ms. Ramirez is an extremist left-wing activist.) As for drinking in college, so what?
The Democrats in the Committee hearing repeatedly called for a limited investigation and based their claims of cover-up on that. They repeatedly asked why not hold up the nomination for just a few days as there were so few people that needed to be interviewed. The demands for yet more investigation with yet more delays seemed to be just moving the goal posts.
The Feinstein Cover-up Okay Not Okay
The ranking Democratic Party member on the Senate Judiciary Committee sat on the Dr. Ford letter for a month and a half. The reason cited for not doing anything about it was keeping Dr. Ford’s identity a secret. There were multiple ways that the accuser’s identity could have been kept a secret while the accusation was investigated. Senator Feinstein chose to pursue none of those ways.
Is this to be the future of how such matters are to be treated: seriously but Feinstein style? Or, to put the same point but in other words: seriously, kinda, sorta, maybe?
Politicians Not Judges
Justices Kagan and Sotomayor stated that the departure of Justice Kennedy meant the departure of the last swing justice. Clearly, they were not offering themselves as swing justices. This amounted to a virtual confession of their own partisanship.
The bottom line of these controversial confirmations is that the Supreme Court has intruded so much into political policy-making that each confirmation is as much political as anything else. What deepens the divide is the deception that the confirmations are not about politics. At bottom, the discussions are not honest.
Note that this last point is not about #MeToo or sex scandal. It is about politics in the judicial branch of the government, about how political it has become.
Perhaps the best long-term fix is for a new constitutional amendment placing checks and balances on this third branch such are in place for the other two branches.
Brett Kavanaugh Confirmed to Supreme Court After Fight That Divided America
Judge Brett Kavanaugh will soon be Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But the consequences of his confirmation Saturday will inevitably be analyzed for years to come – not only on the Supreme Court and the Senate, but across the country.
The Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land, a relatively anticlimactic finale to one of the most contentious Supreme Court confirmation fights in recent history. The vote was consistently interrupted by protesters shouting from the gallery, causing Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding, to call for order. Protesters also descended on the Capitol to express their dissatisfaction with the confirmation.
The confirmation not only exposed the raw emotions of sexual misconduct allegations, but sparked intense national conversations on class, privilege and gender.
Chief Justice John Roberts and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy – whose seat Kavanaugh is taking – will swear him in as a justice later Saturday, “so he can begin to participate in the work of the Court immediately.”
I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court. Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2018
Kavanaugh’s path the the Supreme Court seemed all but assured before allegations surfaced from Christine Blasey Ford that he had tried to rape her at a house party in 1982 when they were both in high school. Two other accusations followed – all of them decades old. Deborah Ramirez alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were in college, and Julie Swetnick alleged she was gang raped at a party Kavanaugh attended.
Ford, a California psychology researcher, was called before the Senate and her testimony Sept. 27 riveted the country, sparking numerous women, including high profile figures like Connie Chung, come forward with their own stories of sexual assault. Kavanaugh’s testimony in response, later that same day, was a boisterous, emphatic denial of any of all claims of impropriety.
In the end, Ford’s testimony before the committee wasn’t enough to persuade a significant number of Senators to break with the Republican Party and vote against Kavanaugh. An FBI investigation was unable to corroborate her allegations, although Democrats decried that process itself was a sham and purposely manipulated by the White House to reach that conclusion. Neither Ford nor Kavanaugh was interviewed for the FBI report, and Swetnick’s claims weren’t investigated. Ramirez was interviewed but her attorneys said investigators never spoke the witnesses she said could corroborate her claim.
The fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination was all but sealed Friday afternoon, when Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a key swing Republican, announced she would vote to confirm him after reviewing the FBI’s report on sexual misconduct allegations levied against him in the final weeks of his nomination. Immediately after Collins concluded her speech, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the lone Democrat holdout, announced his support for Kavanaugh, as well.
While the decisions from Manchin and Collins gave Kavanaugh the necessary votes to ascend to the court, his reputation as a Justice may always be tainted, not only by lingering questions about the allegations of sexual misconduct – which his opponents and, according to polling a majority of women, believe – but about his judicial temperament. Many Democrats openly questioned the latter after his Senate testimony, where he decried the allegations against him as a “calculated and orchestrated political hit” that was the result of anger about President Donald Trump’s election and Kavanaugh’s work in the office of Ken Starr, the prosecutor whose investigation ultimately led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment when he was president. (The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, told the New York Times Friday he would open an investigation into Kavanaugh if Democrats retake the House in the 2018 elections.)
“I think there’s going to be a cloud over Justice Kavanaugh for most of his career,” said Paul M. Collins, Jr., a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and co-author of Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings and Constitutional Change, a book about the history of Supreme Court confirmation hearings. “This was possibly the most controversial Supreme Court nomination in American history. The allegations of sexual assault are obviously exceptionally serious, but so are the allegations of perjury. And there seems to be fairly substantial evidence that at a minimum he misled the judiciary committee. And so having a justice on the Supreme Court who misled the committee, it doesn’t look good for Kavanaugh and it doesn’t look good for the Supreme Court.”
Answers about how Justice Kavanaugh will respond will play out over his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is 53 years old.
The political implications will likely be found at the polls in the upcoming midterm elections on Nov. 6. The country will soon learn whether the controversy will rally President Donald Trump’s conservative base or women and sexual assault survivors who felt they were ignored through the confirmation process – or both groups. Most immediately, however, Senators were in nearly unanimous agreement that the chamber needs to heal the partisan rancor that reached a fever pitch over the last month.
“Without more effort to respect each other, to hear each other, to work across the aisle, the Senate as an institution cannot be the legislative vibrant core of our republic,” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and was instrumental in working with Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake on pushing for an additional FBI investigation, said on Friday.
Kavanaugh’s razor thin confirmation vote was the narrowest margin in recent American history. A confirmation vote hasn’t been so precarious since Justice Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed 52-48 in 1991 after Anita Hill came forward with sexual harassment allegations. Throughout Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Democratic lawmakers and progressive activists repeatedly invoked Thomas’ confirmation, suggesting that nothing had changed for women in nearly three decades.
Irrespective of their claims, there was one clear difference between Kavanaugh and Thomas’ confirmation battles: the divisions in the chamber.
“What I’ve been dealing with since July 10th, the downhill slope that Schumer’s put us on, we’re really dealing with a demolition derby,” Sen. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said this past Thursday.
“This has been my ninth Supreme Court hearing and I must say I’ve never seen anything like this,” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee who was elected into office a year after HIll’s testimony said on the Senate floor Friday.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was confirmed 96-3 25 years ago, was even lamenting the tensions before Ford came forward. “The Republicans move in lockstep, and so do the Democrats,” she said at an event at George Washington University last month. “I wish I could wave a magic wand and bring it back to the way it was.”
When Thomas was confirmed by that narrow margin in 1991, it was considered an anomaly. Supreme Court confirmation processes were’t considered sources of partisan infighting they were mundane Senate procedures. Anthony Kennedy, the outgoing justice Kavanaugh will be replacing, was confirmed 97-0 three years before Thomas. But as Washington became increasingly divisive, Supreme Court nominations gradually followed suit. Samuel Alito was confirmed 58-42 in 2005 Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed 68-31 in 2009 Elena Kagan was confirmed 63-37 in 2010. One reason for the bipartisan support for Supreme Court nominees was that confirmation in the Senate still required 60 votes. But in 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed the rules to require 51 votes for confirmation in order to ensure the passage of Justice Neil Gorsuch – whose nomination came from Trump despite the Supreme Court seat coming open near the end of President Barack Obama’s term when Justice Antonin Scalia.
But even Gorsuch was confirmed with the support of three Democratic Senators. Kavanaugh had just one Democrat.
Part of these divisions were due to circumstances beyond Kavanaugh’s control. Even before Ford came forward alleging that he had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers, he was already facing an intensely partisan Senate. Kennedy was often a swing vote on a Supreme Court divided between four liberal justices and four conservative justices, with Kennedy often a swing vote on key issues like abortion and gay marriage. Kennedy’s retirement meant that Republicans had a chance to tilt the court rightward for a generation. Democrats buoyed by anger from McConnell’s refusal to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland after Scalia’s death, were determined to stop them. Confident that the balance of power in the Senate could shift after the November midterms, Democrats did not want these confirmation hearings to be imminent. “I will oppose him with everything I’ve got,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the morning after Trump nominated Kavanaugh in July. Schumer held true to his word, but Kavanaugh’s nomination didn’t truly seem in doubt until the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced.
With Kavanaugh’s confirmation now a done deal, Republicans clearly want the FBI investigation to be in the rearview mirror. “What I’d like to do, because this is almost rock bottom, I would like to have the future mending things so we can do things in a collegial way that the United States Senate ought to do, particularly when it comes to Supreme Court nominations,” Grassley said Thursday when asked if he would take any potential action against Ford’s legal team.
To be sure, the Senate was still legislating on a bipartisan basis even as lawmakers attacked each other. This week alone, the chamber almost unanimously passed sweeping legislation addressing the opioid crisis and a bill reauthorizing funding for the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for the next five years. For some lawmakers, these bills were proof that the chamber could ultimately recover from the divisiveness of the past month. “The Senate’s not very big,” Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said Friday. “It’s a matter of figuring out of how to find what you can agree with somebody on and move forward on that. There are clearly some hurt feelings here … I think we’ll move on but it will take a while.”
McConnell was also dismissive of the idea this would do lasting damage. “These things always blow over,” he said in a news conference after the vote.
Notably, however, these achievements were completely overshadowed by the partisan infighting. Members on the Senate Judiciary Committee went back and forth over the details of the FBI investigation, with Democrats calling the process a “sham,” and Republicans arguing that Democrats would never be satisfied. McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, repeatedly said on the Senate floor that Democrats were using the allegations as fodder for delay, leading Schumer to all but accuse him of lying.
“It is a blatant falsehood,” Schumer said of McConnell’s remarks this past Wednesday. “I’m so tempted to use the L-word, but he’s my friend.”
That friendship was rarely, if ever, on display this past week.
While Republicans may be pleased with the outcome of the process, the actual steps to get there seemed to leave the entire chamber exhausted, frustrated and unsure how to recover. “If this is not rock bottom, I wouldn’t want to be in my business,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who voted for both of Obama’s Supreme Court nominees and was an outspoken supporter of Kavanaugh, said on Thursday after the FBI report came out.
Notably, the two key Republican swing votes on Kavanagh – Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski – devoted large sections of their floor speeches Friday to lamenting partisan division.
“We have come to the conclusion of a confirmation process that has become so dysfunctional it looks more like a caricature of a gutter-level political campaign than a solemn occasion,” Collin said at the top of her 44-minute speech that concluded with her announcing her support of Kavanaugh.
“Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than 30 years,” she continued. “One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.”
About four hours later, Murkowski delivered her speech. She had reached a different conclusion than Collins – earlier in the day she had voted against the procedural motion to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination. (She voted present on Saturday to allow her colleague, Montana Sen. Steve Daines, to attend his daughter’s wedding). But when she spoke about her disappointment with the Senate, she was firmly in the same camp as Collins.
“We must do better as a legislative branch,” she said at the beginning of her speech. “We have a moral obligation to do better than this.”
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's Rise Continues To Fascinate In 'Dissent'
The past 4 1/2 years have been a fever dream in American politics.
Donald Trump's administration was marked by unprecedented chaos and drama, with major stories crowding one another out of the news on a daily basis.
But one major event — the confirmation hearings of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — still sticks in the minds of Americans all along the political spectrum.
Kavanaugh's ascension to the nation's highest court is the subject of Dissent, the new book from Los Angeles Times White House editor Jackie Calmes. It's not the first book to tackle the rise of the controversial justice — Ruth Marcus did so in Supreme Ambition, as did Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly in The Education of Brett Kavanaugh — but it's a fascinating look not only into the life and career of Kavanaugh, but also into the American conservative movement's successful long-term plan to move the Supreme Court rightward. As Calmes describes it, this was "a forty-year dream, taking control of the nation's highest court with an unquestionably conservative majority."
Calmes traces Kavanaugh's childhood in the Washington, D.C., area, where he grew up the son of a lawyer and a lobbyist. The younger Kavanaugh attended Georgetown Prep, a boys' high school known for "sports and partying" and which also had a "darker side," Calmes writes: "[A]t Prep a chauvinistic machismo was celebrated. After a weekend of bad behavior, guys wouldn't have to soberly confront the offended girls in the corridors and classes."
Kavanaugh went on to earn his undergraduate and law degrees at Yale and earned his conservative bona fides early in his career as a lawyer, interning for Ken Starr, then President George H.W. Bush's solicitor general. He would later co-author Starr's famed government report on President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, which would lead to the Democrat's impeachment.
It was Kavanaugh's conservative cred that led Trump to nominate the jurist for the Supreme Court, which led to one of the most dramatic hearings in recent Senate history. Psychologist Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of viciously assaulting her when they were both high school students as one of the young man's friends looked on her claims shook the nation, with one passage from her testimony — "Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter—the uproarious laughter between the two — and their having fun at my expense" — resounding among survivors of sexual assault.
Calmes writes about Ford's decision to come forward with real sensitivity and fairness, and she speaks to numerous sources about the psychologist's experiences — Calmes is a first-rate reporter, and her skills are on full display here. Her chronicle of the Kavanaugh hearing, at which Ford laid out her claims against Kavanaugh, is riveting. She captures Ford's dramatic appearance beautifully: "At one point, she nervously turned to the friends behind her, smiled, and waved slightly," Calmes writes. Turning back, she faced the senators, visibly breathed deep, and swallowed hard. The tension was palpable — hers, and everyone else's."
Kavanaugh, of course, would eventually be confirmed, after his own tearful testimony in which he denied attacking Ford. Dissent ends with a look at Kavanaugh's brief tenure on the Supreme Court, which Calmes considers carefully and with real insight. Noting that some conservatives have been disappointed in Chief Justice John Roberts, Calmes writes, "Kavanaugh did not disappoint conservatives, however: He came down on the 'right' side on the abortion, Dreamers, and gay rights decisions, and signaled eagerness to expand gun rights."
Interspersed throughout the book is Calmes' look at the factors that made Kavanaugh's confirmation — and the Supreme Court's present composition, which clearly favors conservatives — possible. Republicans had been determined to pack the court even before the newly Democrat-controlled Senate blocked President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to the court in 1987, Calmes writes. Bork was a mentor of the founders of the Federalist Society, a constitutional originalist group whose influence on the American right is partially responsible for the court's right-wing lean today Calmes' look at the history of the group is captivating.
Dissent is a remarkable work of reportage. Not only does Calmes provide a detailed, well-researched account of Kavanaugh's life, career and ascent to become one of the country's nine most influential judges, she offers fascinating context into the factors behind it. She writes elegantly, but without adornment, resisting the urge to editorialize or make grand pronouncements, and the book is the better for it — it's both a riveting portrait of a particular moment in time as well as of the era that it embodied.
Journalism in the age of Trump has been an endlessly fraught enterprise Calmes' book is a master class in how to do it well.
Kavanaugh confirmed to Supreme Court after bitter partisan battle
Brett Kavanaugh is scheduled to be sworn in as a Supreme Court justice on Saturday, following his confirmation by the Senate in a rare weekend vote.
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Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate on Saturday, following a bitter partisan battle and allegations of sexual assault that President Donald Trump’s nominee angrily denied.
In a rare weekend session, a narrow majority of senators voted to confirm Kavanaugh to the nation’s highest court. His confirmation was all but assured on Friday, after Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said they would back him. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the only Republican to voice opposition to Kavanaugh, voted “present” to offset the absence of Montana Republican Steve Daines, who is attending his daughter’s wedding. The final tally was 50-48-1.
Nominated by Trump in July, Kavanaugh later refuted accusations by college professor Christine Blasey Ford and two other women, in a high-stakes drama over sexual misconduct that has played out against the backdrop of the “#MeToo” movement and the November midterm elections.
While initially describing Ford as a “very credible witness” after her emotional testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Trump openly mocked her for what he said were gaps in her memory about the incident she alleged. Ford accused Kavanaugh of pulling her into a room at a high-school party in the 1980s, and trying to remove her clothes. Kavanaugh denied the allegations in testimony before the same panel, at times tearing up and hotly clashing with senators.
Christine Blasey Ford, left, and Brett Kavanaugh
Kavanaugh will join fellow Trump pick Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, and is expected to give it a 5-4 conservative majority. Kavanaugh replaces Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement in June. Kavanaugh once clerked for Kennedy, was an aide to Kenneth Starr during the investigation of President Bill Clinton, and most recently has served on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Trump said on Twitter that Kavanaugh would be sworn in later Saturday.
Democrats continued to protest the nomination in Senate floor speeches overnight, blasting a supplemental FBI investigation into Kavanaugh that they said was incomplete and charging that he disregarded impartiality while defending himself before the Judiciary Committee.
“This nominee was interviewing for a job in front of the American people, and he was belligerent, evasive and aggressive,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat.
Maine’s Collins, whose eleventh-hour declaration of support helped tip the balance for Kavanaugh, said Friday that Ford’s allegations against the judge were “compelling” and “sincere,” but were not likely to be accurate.
Manchin, the only Democrat to back Kavanaugh, is facing re-election in a state Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016.
The heated battle over the Kavanaugh nomination is certain to reverberate across the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Polls have shown Republicans at risk of losing the House of Representatives, and support among GOP women dropped for Kavanaugh after the allegations were brought against him. Yet there were also signs of increased enthusiasm among Republicans as the fight wore on.
Murkowski called Kavanaugh a “good man” in a Friday speech, but said the judge’s “appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable.” She said her decision to vote “present” was a courtesy to fellow Republican Daines, in a move that let Kavanaugh be confirmed with a two-vote margin. That margin was one of the narrowest ever for a Supreme Court nominee, the Associated Press noted.
Kavanaugh confirmed to Supreme Court
A divided Senate narrowly approved Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination on Saturday, ending one of the bitterest confirmation battles in the history of the high court.
The near party-line vote in favor of President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee followed weeks of raucous partisan sparring over allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted several women when he was younger.
Vice President Pence presided over the contentious vote, which was interrupted by protesters chanting “shame on you.”
Pence was repeatedly forced to pause the counting and hammer a gavel as he called for order in the chamber.
“This is a stain on American history!” one woman cried as the vote wrapped up. “Do you understand?”
Capitol Police dragged screaming demonstrators from the spectator gallery.
The final tally was 50-48. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only Democrat in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted “present” as a courtesy to another GOP senator whow as absent because he attended his daughter's wedding.
Kavanaugh was sworn by Chief Justice John Roberts in a private ceremony Saturday evening.
Trump, visibly buoyant, proudly expressed confidence in court’s newest conservative jurist.
As he watched the Senate vote from his private cabin aboard Air Force One, the president flashed two thumbs up and predicted Kavanaugh would be a “totally brilliant Supreme Court justice for many years.”
He also criticized Democrats for what he called a “horrible, horrible attack” on Kavanaugh over allegations of sexual miscconduct.
He called it “a horrible attack that nobody should have to go through.”
The tight victory in the Senate — a formality, as a procedural vote Friday had cleared Kavanaugh’s path to office — was a major win for a President who has himself faced accusations of sexual misconduct.
Kavanaugh will give the court a solid 5-4 conservative majority. He replaces retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been a moderate swing vote.
In remarks just before the vote, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said a vote for Kavanaugh was “a vote to end this brief, dark chapter in the Senate's history and turn the page toward a brighter tomorrow.”
Nearly as soon as Kavanaugh and his family stood with Trump at a White House event July 9, his nomination set off an intense partisan brawl rarely seen before on Capitol Hill. The bickering exploded into a bitter back-and-forth as the fight focused less on the appeals court judge’s right-wing record and more on a trio of women who came forward with disturbing claims of sexual misconduct.
Sexual assault survivors and protesters flooded Senate office buildings to confront Republicans. Beleaguered senators beefed up personal security, and walked through packed Capitol Hill corridors with police escorts.
The fight sparked a national conversation about sexual assault and elevated the “Me Too” movement to new heights.
Kavanaugh forcefully denied the allegations against him, and claimed bitterly that Democrats opposed to his nomination were carrying out “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.”
He also said the opposition was an act of “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” Kavanaugh was among those who investigated the Clintons on the staff of independent counsel Kenneth Starr in the 1990s.
A California psychology professor, Christine Blasey Ford, took center stage in the matter after she accused Kavanaugh of trying to rape her at a 1982 house party. She was 15 at the time.
Kavanaugh angrily denied Ford’s claims — as well as those of other women who accused him of sexual misconduct.
As the controversy swirled, Trump approved a truncated FBI background check into Kavanaugh’s past. He also called Ford a “very fine woman” offering a “compelling” account.
But at a political rally Tuesday night in Mississippi, Trump threw fuel on the fire by openly mocking Ford to the delight of his cheering supporters.
Thousands of demonstrators opposing the appointment of the 53-year-old appeals court judge descended on Washington in the hours ahead of the Senate approval. About 100 protesters were handcuffed by police after they climbed the Capitol’s East Steps in a fist-pumping, sign-waving protest.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on voters to look past the appointment to the November midterms.
“Change must come from where change in America always begins: the ballot box,” he said.
Republicans felt emboldened by the controversy. McConnell told The Hill that the fight “has been like a shot of adrenaline in our campaigns.”
The GOP argued that the Democrat-backed FBI investigation backfired, turning up no corroborating witnesses and that Kavanaugh’s past conservative record on the bench was more than enough reason to send him to the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation rested on a handful of lawmakers. Moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Manchin, facing a tight reelection race in a deep red state, made their positions known Friday following a procedural vote.
On Friday, Collins delivered a 45-minute speech on the Senate floor, saying that while Ford's testimony was “sincere, painful and compelling,” the caustic clash surrounding Kavanaugh swayed her vote.
“We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy,” she said.
The two-vote victory underscored how unusually contentious the nomination fight had been. It was the closest roll call to confirm a justice since 1881, when Stanley Matthews was approved in a 24-23 vote.
Could Brett Kavanaugh Be Booted From the Supreme Court?
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By Andrew Harnik/AFP/Getty Images.
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On October 6, 2018, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court, making history on a number of fronts. He was the first person to sit on the court who’d mentioned his love for beer nearly three-dozen times over the course of his Senate confirmation hearing. He was the first person to sit on the court who’d specifically told the the members of the Senate Judicial Committee: “We drank beer. My friends and I. Boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer.” He was the first person to respond to a sitting senator’s question of whether he’d ever blacked out by asking, “Have you?” He was the first person to read aloud from a calendar entry that said, “Tobin’s House—Workout / Go to Timmy’s for [brewskis] w/ Judge, Tom, PJ, Bernie, Squi.” He was the first person, very likely in not just the U.S. but in world history, to openly weep about calendars in general.
Yet somehow, none of that was the most troubling part of Kavanaugh being confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the most powerful court in the country. More concerning than Kavanaugh’s weirdly emotional take on calendars and defensiveness about blacking out was, of course, the credible allegations against him of sexual assault. While the FBI was said to have conducted a “supplemental investigation” of claims against Kavanaugh made by Christine Blasey Ford, Democrats said at the time that the probe was a “farce,” a “sham,” and a “horrific cover-up” that crucially omitted key witnesses at the White House’s request. Now, that investigation may be getting a second look. Per The Guardian:
Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator and former prosecutor who serves on the judiciary committee, is calling on the newly-confirmed attorney general, Merrick Garland, to help facilitate “proper oversight” by the Senate into questions about how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing…. Among the concerns listed in Whitehouse’s letter to Garland are allegations that some witnesses who wanted to share their accounts with the FBI could not find anyone at the bureau who would accept their testimony and that it had not assigned any individual to accept or gather evidence. “This was unique behavior in my experience, as the Bureau is usually amenable to information and evidence but in this matter the shutters were closed, the drawbridge drawn up, and there was no point of entry by which members of the public or Congress could provide information to the FBI,” Whitehouse said.
He added that, once the FBI decided to create a “tip line,” senators were not given any information on how or whether new allegations were processed and evaluated. While senators’ brief review of the allegations gathered by the tip line showed a “stack” of information had come in, there was no further explanation on the steps that had been taken to review the information, Whitehouse said. “This ‘tip line’ appears to have operated more like a garbage chute, with everything that came down the chute consigned without review to the figurative dumpster,” he said…. Whitehouse said he is seeking answers about “how, why, and at whose behest” the FBI conducted a “fake” investigation if standard procedures were violated, including standards for following allegations gathered through FBI “tip lines.”
How Republicans, Democrats reacted to Donnelly's vote
The Kavanaugh decision could become a liability for Donnelly, a Democrat running for re-election in a state that Trump won by 19 percentage points in 2016. Republicans began hammering Donnelly within moments after Kavanaugh's confirmation became official.
“Joe Donnelly ignored Hoosier voters and caved to his liberal base and Democratic Party bosses by voting against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” Bob Salera, a spokesman for the National Republican Senate Committee, said. “With one vote, Donnelly has demolished his phony moderate act and his betrayal of Hoosiers and their values will cost him his seat in November.”
Yet, Donnelly's opposition to Kavanaugh also has the potential to activate Indiana Democrats and left-leaning organizations.
Rev. Shannon MacVean Brown, the president of Act Indiana, which promotes racial justice, praised Donnelly's vote in a statement.
"We are grateful that one of Indiana’s senators, Joe Donnelly, did right by our families and voted ‘no’ on Kavanaugh," she said. "The challenging times ahead call for this kind of bold unwavering moral leadership. Women and people of moral integrity will take notice on Election Day.”
Indiana's junior senator, Todd Young, voted in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation after explaining his decision a day earlier.
Young joined all Republicans, except for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, by voting in favor of Kavanaugh. Murkowski was opposed to Kavanaugh's confirmation, but voted present so Montana Republican Steve Daines, a Kavanaugh supporter, could attend his daughter's wedding without changing the outcome.
“Hoosiers expect results, and we have more work to do to ensure all Hoosiers can meaningfully participate in this growing economy," Young said in a statement. "I’m hopeful we can now move beyond the heightened rhetoric and political gamesmanship we have seen over the last several weeks and resume working together in a bipartisan way to deliver results for the American people.”
Young during a Friday conference call said Ford suffered "some trauma, probably some misconduct," but added he did not think Kavanaugh assaulted her.
Republicans, including Young, have argued that none of the accusations against Kavanaugh have been corroborated, while Democrats have blasted the follow-up FBI investigation — ordered by Trump — as too limited in scope to find the truth.
Young on Saturday emphasized he was satisfied with the FBI investigation.
“The accusations leveled against Judge Kavanaugh were serious and needed to be investigated," Young said. "Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser were each afforded the opportunity to tell their stories to the American people. Following that, the FBI investigated the claims as requested. During this scrutiny, and six previous background investigations, none of the accusations were corroborated in any way."
Kavanaugh confirmed, Supreme Court is instrument of ruling-class reaction
In spite of the mass opposition in the streets and in communities throughout the United States the U.S. Senate has confirmed arch-reactionary Brett Kavanaugh to be the ninth Justice of the Supreme Court. With rare exception the Supreme Court has over the past 200 years upheld the most reactionary aspects of U.S. capitalism – the enslavement of African people, the maintenance of an apartheid system following the Civil War, the granting of broad immunity for U.S. police departments as they carry out systematic violence against oppressed communities, the denial of women’s right to vote and a myriad of other efforts to suppress workers in the U.S. labor movement.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation is outrageous and truly undemocratic–a majority of voters polled now oppose him on the Court since the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct surfaced.
But the problem with the Supreme Court goes deeper than Kavanaugh. While some are suggesting Kavanaugh will “tarnish” or “delegitimize” an otherwise pristine institution, the truth is that the Court is undemocratic and reactionary to its very core.
The Supreme Court is portrayed as an impartial body, detached from society, above everyone, but we know this is not true. It represents a legal system that was created by the wealthy elite to maintain the rule of the dominant class. They created it and it operates against the interests of the vast majority in society. It is stacked, generation after generation, with Harvard and Yale graduates, with deep connections to corporate America and vetted by the political establishments of the two ruling parties.
Before the Civil War, it protected slavery — many of the justices were slaveholders themselves, buying and selling men, women and children in their free time while writing tracts about “justice” and “freedom.” In the industrial revolution, the Court became a vehicle for the railroad companies to bust up unions and the organizations of small farmers. Under Jim Crow, it defended segregation. When the ruling class was on the defensive in the 1960s and 1970s, and the people’s movements were rising, the Court granted some progressive reforms, but its recent history — Citizens United, Janus, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act — have all shown where it really stands.
The Supreme Court and other components of the “checks and balances” governmental system we learn about in school, in fact exists to prevent “too much” democracy. As Stephanie Fisher wrote:
“…the Supreme Court has been used to limit the democratic process in the interests of the ruling class. It ensures, for example, that no democratically elected Congress could ever pass a law that infringes on the right of the rich to own their wealth.” (The Supreme Court: Last Line of Defense for the Ruling Class.)
Regardless of which individual is confirmed as a member of the Supreme Court, the institution as a whole is inherently undemocratic and serves to protect the interests of the capitalist class. As such, it needs to be abolished.
Down with the sexist system!
Even before it became widespread knowledge that Kavanaugh had been credibly accused of attempted rape and other forms of sexual assault, it was no secret that he is a very reactionary judge who opposes abortion and could overturn Roe v. Wade. The bigger question is: why is it even an option to overturn women’s rights?
The system of capitalist “democracy” does not guarantee basic rights for women but uses our rights as a political bargaining chip.
Sexual assault, sexual harassment and other forms of gendered violence have deep roots in patriarchal class society, supported by the ideology of male supremacy. In this context, sexualized and gendered violence including assault and harassment are everyday occurences for women. Women are blamed for being victimized: Why did she go to the party? Why did she wear that dress? Why did she drink beer? Why didn’t she say no? Why didn’t she report the crime?
Women have been socialized to not report, not tell anyone about assault because it is seen as a “personal” problem and because women know that it is we, the ones who have already suffered assault, who will be put on trial–not the person who assaulted us.
That is why #MeToo and #WhyIDidntReport are powerful. Many women are saying we will no longer be silent.There’s a movement of people demanding our rights as part of a greater struggle for justice and equality. Women and our supporters are rising up with long-suppressed anger to denounce and protest Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
We must resist the pressure to throw our support behind the Democratic Party, also known as “the lesser of two evils.” The argument that the President appoints Supreme Court justices–thus a Democratic president is preferable–is often used as the ultimate argument against voting for a socialist or working-class candidate. This argument contributes to the problem that it aims to address. By channeling people into a political system that is by its very construction anti-democratic, it undermines the effort to build a powerful, militant people’s movement.
The confirmation of a known reactionary and misogynist such as Kavanaugh should not be reason for despair. Our power is not measured in confirmation hearings. The Senate is a millionaires’ club, representing its own interests, not ours.
Our power is measured in the streets, in our schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. Despite its reactionary character, the Court has in its history made a few “progressive” rulings. These rulings, like all such rulings, reflect the balance of forces in the class struggle on a global scale, more than they reflect the exact composition of the court. When the working class movement for people’s liberation is strong, the court will grant a concession, not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because to do otherwise would be to throw fuel on the fire of the people’s anger.