Washington circus: The Kavanaugh hearings

Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, responds to reporters' questions on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Last week, democratic Senator Cory Booker released an email from Brett Kavanaugh, wherein he discusses racial profiling. Booker admitted that he didn’t have permission to release it, and that by doing so, he risked expulsion from the Senate, but he didn’t care because the American people needed to know the truth about Kavanaugh. Sounds like the words of a political martyr, right? Wrong! Turns out that nothing scandalous was revealed, and Booker hadn’t violated any rules. Booker’s grandstanding might have stood out, if it hadn’t been for all the other lunacy that has defined the Kavanaugh hearings. Ever since Trump picked Brett Kavanaugh to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, the left has turned into a megaphone, spewing demagoguery that has no equal on the right. Activists portray Kavanaugh as a far-right extremist with no regard for the law, even though an honest assessment of his legal philosophy reveals him to be a level-headed applier of the law. The tactics used in this anti-Kavanaugh campaign are not only hypocritical (how can you possibly criticize Trump for being bombastic when you’re yelling over rightfully elected officials?), but they’re also a classic example of putting politics over governing, and they demonstrate an utter lack of respect for democratic procedures.

It used to be that Supreme Court hearings were respectful. The senators asked tough questions, but political grandstanding was left aside. Furthermore, those watching the hearings had, for the most part, been respectful of the process. At the Kavanaugh hearings, however, leftists had no intention of keeping things cordial. Rabble-rousers were a frequent sight and sound. They interrupted senators as they questioned Kavanaugh and shouted when he attempted to answer them. In all, over 200 were dragged out of the room and arrested, and we shouldn’t have any sympathy for them. Peaceful, respectful protests, like those of Martin Luther King, are noble, but these people were anything but respectful. They were hecklers, screaming over someone they disliked like children, in the vain hope someone would obey them. Moreover, they lacked respect for the democratic process outlined in our Constitution. The president nominates Supreme Court justices, and the Senate confirms them if they’re qualified (and Kavanaugh most certainly is qualified). Don’t like the nominees? Great! Then elect a president who will pick different justices. Screaming at a jurist, on the other hand, is akin to mob rule. It ignores the process and the Enlightenment ideals behind it.

It wasn’t only the protesters who were disrespectful. Several democratic senators, many of whom have presidential ambitions, were equally rude. When Cory Booker released the email about racial profiling, he called it his “Spartacus moment.” But, Kamala Harris wanted to be Spartacus too. She repeatedly questioned Kavanaugh about whether he’d talked to anyone from Kasowitz, Benson, & Torres (a law firm founded by the president’s personal lawyer) about the Mueller investigation. This question wasn’t fair because, as Senator Mike Lee pointed out, it’d be hard to tell whether he had spoken to anyone there because lawyers are constantly hopping from one firm to another. He was never given a list of lawyers employed at the firm, and he eventually answered that he wasn’t sure. Even after the irrationality of her question was exposed, Ms. Harris refused to accept his response. However, perhaps the most egregious example of a senator trying to derail the nomination comes from Dianne Feinstein, who has unleashed the latest round of drama with a letter detailing claims that Kavanaugh sexually harassed Christine Baley Ford in high school. Obviously, we shouldn’t brush over claims of abuse, but this particular claim is suspect for several reasons and is most likely being pushed for political reasons. Afterall, the only witness Ford mentions has not confirmed that her story is true, whereas 65 of Kavanaugh’s high school classmates have signed a letter attesting to his moral character and rebuking the allegations. Moreover, Kavanaugh has undergone multiple FBI background checks, and all failed to find any incidents of sexual assault, including this one. It’s also worth noting that Senator Feinstein received the letter in July, but only brought it to the Senate’s attention last week. If the allegations are serious and convincing, why wait so long to discuss them? For the record, I’m not against having Ms. Ford testify, however, it should be noted that the allegations have not been substantiated in any way and are likely a stall tactic by the democrats.

As this raucous hearing has taken its course, current Supreme Court justices from both sides of the aisle have lamented the sad state of politics of which the Kavanaugh nomination has become emblematic. All too often, our senators and congressmen have obstructed rather than governed. Many, including Mr. Booker and Ms. Harris, see their position as a gateway to the presidency, and compete for the best soundbites and not the best outcomes for the country. Sadly, as the protesters show, many of America’s partisans approve of this style of governance and eagerly take part in it. None of this is to say that congressmen shouldn’t oppose the president when they disagree with him or that republicans aren’t guilty of this either. Rather, the Democratic Party, as the current minority party, has a responsibility to take electoral defeat with dignity and work with the majority for the good of the nation. It’s how our founding fathers intended things to be.


Jacob Marie is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jacob.marie@uconn.com.