When I look at SCOTUS nominations, I always evaluate them based on best and brightest. In other words, is the nominated individual: a.) of exemplar character, and b.) among our smartest?
Certainly, Justice Brett Kavanaugh is as smart as anyone who has ever served on the U.S. Supreme Court. But, his character clearly is very suspect.
I am not an angel; quite the opposite. In high school in North Georgia, I was much like Kavanaugh. I got very good grades, but I drank like a fish and got in multiple fights and altercations. However, I was never accused of attempting to rape a woman, and I am not a judge.
There was never any doubt that a conservative would be nominated by Trump. Conservatives control all three branches of government. Therefore, I believed from the start that person would be confirmed on a party-line vote. What I did not anticipate was Kavanaugh’s personal issues.
In my lifetime, there have been numerous nominations by presidents of either party that have been withdrawn when significant questions were raised about the nominee’s background. Not so this time.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell made the decision that he would play hardball during Obama’s first term and continued to obstruct his policies throughout his second term. In an historic violation of norms, McConnell held up the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, a moderate, until after the 2016 presidential election.
Early on in the latest SCOTUS battle, McConnell made the decision to get Kavanaugh approved at all costs. He was very public about it. On the other side, the Democrats were angry due to the Garland situation and also dug in their heels. They would have opposed anyone on the right-wing Federalist Society’s list of suggested nominees.
So, this SCOTUS process was bound to be political. And, from the start, the GOP held the winning cards; another conservative was going to be on the Supreme Court. What is so upsetting is that McConnell purposefully put his party before the nation.
Normally, if there are reasonable questions raised about the character of a nominee, they are fully and thoroughly investigated by the FBI. If there are two versions of a story, all relevant witnesses are interviewed to determine the facts. That clearly was not the case here.
McConnell (and his stooge, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley) set this process up to be a “he-said, she-said” situation. A Senator could either believe Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh. After their testimony, the American public remained negative about Kavanaugh,whose obfuscation and fiery rhetoric was exactly the opposite of what taxpayers expect from a member of the Supreme Court.
The reasonable thing to do would have been for McConnell to ask Trump to withdraw the nomination and then just nominate another even-more-conservative judge. Instead, McConnell chose to double down, and the party went with him.
It was infuriating to see Sen. Susan Collins speak with eloquence about Dr. Ford, who was almost universally seen as 100 percent credible, and then ignore the fact that Ford was 100 percent sure that Kavanaugh attacked her. It is just outrageous to assert that she was mistaken and that some mystery man tried to rape her. That is not a detail a survivor would forget.
Uninformed people, male and female, will buy the GOP line. So will the zealots in their base. But, clear thinking, independent, educated women (and some men) will be disgusted by what they have seen. Their votes in 2018 and 2020 (and likely permanently) will go to the Democrats, especially when Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Trump will likely appoint three extremely right-wing SCOTUS members before he leaves office. And, when the Democrats regain Congress, we can expect them to try to expand the Supreme Court to bring it back into balance. The GOP has won a battle, but I suspect will lose the war.
Jack Bernard, of Fayette County, was the first director of health planning for Georgia, and has been an executive with several national health care firms. A Republican, he’s a former chairman of the Jasper County Commission.