Two days before Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court, I wrote that the Republicans were poisoning its legitimacy and the Democrats must redeem it. I said doing so required questioning the high court’s integrity, foremost the integrity of the “due process” that was installing Brett Kavanaugh. On October 4, 2018, I wrote:
There is in fact a growing nonpartisan consensus that [Kavanaugh is] not only unfit. He’s a liability for a court whose legitimacy has been increasingly in doubt. … This means the Democrats are on solid ground for any attempt to reform the court to restore its credibility. The question isn’t whether they should. The question is how.
The question of how is still very much in play, but I was more right than I could have known back then about whether the Democrats should clean up the Republican Party’s corruption of our legal system. We are now seeing the beginning of a major scandal in which the crime, even if it’s proven, is less important politically than the cover up.
The Times and LA Times reported over the weekend a previously unknown allegation of sexual misconduct against the new associate justice. More significance, the reporting verified the degree to which Judiciary Republicans sandbagged the FBI’s inquiry into that and other allegations. Kavanaugh, for his part, may have lied under oath. Four Democratic candidates, including Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, are now calling not only for a new inquiry but potential impeachment hearings, too.
When I wrote that, “To save the village [SCOTUS], the Democrats have to burn it down,” I didn’t think they’d arrive with torches! But it appears at least some of the Democrats, even leading candidate Joe Biden, are ready to fight post-confirmation even if fighting leads to the undermining of the Supreme Court’s legitimacy. (Biden, to be clear, has not called for impeachment hearings. His campaign said revelations raise “profoundly troubling questions about the integrity of the confirmation process” and that “we must follow the evidence wherever it leads” to restore faith in government.)
OK, what happened?
You already knew about Christine Blasey Ford. She went to the Capitol to tell Senators in nationally televised testimony about Kavanaugh’s sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. You probably already knew about Deborah Ramirez. She and Kavanaugh were freshman at Yale together. During a night of heavy drinking, she said he shoved his penis in her face. Her account ran in the Times before Kavanaugh was confirmed on Oct. 6, 2018, by a vote of 50-48, the closest judicial vote in 130 years.
What no one knew, however, was that there was a second allegation from a second source who witnessed a second and separate incident that was similar to Ramirez’s. This account was revealed by two Times reporters in an excerpt published Sunday of their forthcoming book about Kavanaugh. “A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.” (The victim was not identified. She said she doesn’t remember the incident. She and Stier credit her intoxication for her memory lapse.)
The LA Times’ Jackie Calmes reported that Stier told Democratic Senator Chris Coons about the second penis incident. Coons then told Chris Wray, the FBI Director. The FBI, however, never contacted Stier. Indeed, the FBI took less than a week to complete its background investigation of Kavanaugh. Senate Republicans had insisted on that time frame. Moreover, they permitted FBI agents to talk to no more than 10 people.
Lawyers for Ford and Ramirez “sent letters to Wray that, together, named more than 50 individuals that the bureau’s agents should interview,” Calmes reported. “Only nine were ever contacted—all of them from the list that Republicans had submitted (my italics).
We don’t know if any of these allegations can be proven. We don’t know, as a consequence, if Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath. We do know, however, thanks for this new reporting that the Republicans sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee went to great lengths to prevent the truth from coming to light, whatever that truth was. We know furthermore that the Republicans lied to ram Brett Kavanaugh through.
Chuck Grassley said at the time: “There is no corroboration of the allegations made by Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez.” Yes, because he and other Republicans made sure of that. Susan Collins, a pro-choice Republican who knew the FBI could not conduct a very thorough investigation, told reporters: “It appears to be a very thorough investigation.”
It was none of those things.
Will Kavanaugh be impeached? I have no idea. For now, what’s important is for the American people to understand what the GOP did to the rule of law, and for the Democrats to get the American people’s permission to clean up its corruption.
Hypocrisy or stupidity? Trump’s utterly clueless sons rail against Hunter Biden’s nepotism
Former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday, and when asked if he thought foreign companies and investment banks would have hired him if his name wasn't Biden he said, "Probably not." He is correct. The younger Biden had little to no experience in the businesses for which he was paid big salaries. He was hired because he is the son of a powerful person, clearly in hopes that they would have some influence with the father and impress their customers with the fact that they were so close to someone with influence.
That reeks of class privilege and it is incredibly common in American business and politics. I don't think I have ever worked anywhere in my life where cronyism, nepotism and influence-peddling weren't present in some form or another. Hiring some ne'er-do-well relative is one of the ways rich and powerful people scratch each other's backs — and, not incidentally, ensure that the quasi-aristocracy of the one percent is perpetuated. If anything, what's uncommon is for some scion of the powerful to openly admit he only got the job was because of his name. Usually, they fatuously insist their "success" is due to their own unique brilliance and talent.
Here are 5 ways to restore the legitimacy of the Supreme Court
In recent years the legitimacy of the Supreme Court has come under question as Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Senate Republicans have bent the nomination process for their own political gain.
At the same time, the Court has rewritten the rules of our democracy. In just the last few years, it has rolled back the Voting Rights Act, given corporations even greater power over their workers and consumers, and given the green light to partisan gerrymandering.