Brett Kavanaugh does not belong on the U.S. Supreme Court. That doesn’t mean he won’t wind up there. However, a nomination that seemed to be on track for a swift, hold-your-nose-and-swallow confirmation has been sidetracked by one of the few Republicans in Congress with at least a modicum of respect for the reputation and responsibilities of the United States Senate and the opinions of the people its members are sworn to serve. Especially women.
This is a two-track story.
First, Kavanaugh. If one were inclined to set aside: a) credible allegations of sexual assault by him as a hard-drinking high school and college student (Georgetown Prep and Yale); b) his evasiveness and aversion to the truth regarding his school and work history; and c) the fact that hundreds of thousands of pages of his opinions as a federal judge were not made available to the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose job is to review presidential judicial nominations, we assume it is possible for one to decide that Kavanaugh is born and bred to be a justice of the United States Supreme Court, as he apparently believes.
We are not so inclined. For his part, Kavanaugh had the responsibility at the committee hearing to address these concerns and more in such a way as to reassure Americans that he would add a thoughtful, sober voice to the nation’s highest court. He failed abysmally.
For more than a half hour he screamed, cried and raged at the apparent (to him) injustice of being questioned about his behavior as a young man and his initial lack of candor about it. He was rude and dismissive to Democratic senators who questioned him on his drinking. He accused Democrats (the Clintons by name) of orchestrating a “political hit” on him via Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who sent the committee a letter alleging a sexual assault in high school by Kavanaugh. She testified before the committee, courageously and convincingly.
In sum, Kavanaugh, dripping in self-pity, had a full-scale, emotional, politically charged temper tantrum on national television at a Senate hearing intended to determine his fitness to sit on the Supreme Court bench. Judicial temperament is supposed to encompass such things as impartiality, calmness, self-control. Kavanaugh failed miserably and this is more than enough reason to reject his nomination.
The 11 Republican members of the 21-person committee, however, apparently were willing to overlook his hearing conduct and those “minor” issues and rush Kavanaugh through to a full Senate vote. That’s the second track and it was well under way until Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, whose criticisms of Donald Trump’s presidency have thus far been mere words, was finally shamed into publicly acknowledging his true feelings and taking action.
Sort of. Flake’s last-second request for an additional FBI investigation of the sexual assault allegations before he could vote gained support from Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Two Republican “no” votes could derail Kavanaugh. Investigation granted. The resultant one-week delay restores a little dignity to the proceedings, but the Republican Party’s blatant dismissal of women was once again showcased.
And Brett Kavanaugh turned out to be the worst witness for his cause.