Friday, October 5, 2018

. Justice Brett Kavanaugh will have much to prove

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News 10/10/18

This is a revision and update  of a prior post, but under a new title

UpDate 10/18/18  The 10th circuit to which the ethics questions is in Denver.
Update 10/12/18

Confirmed to the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh will have much to prove. He will have a challenge in gaining the respect  he believes he deserves. His confirmation by the Senate was approved by one of the narrowest of  margins in recent history, including Justice Clarence Thomas' confirmation.   An Axios/Survey Monkey poll October 3-4,  showed him with a 50% disapproval of voters. Only 36% of women approved of confirming him indicating problems down the line for the GOP already suffering from a 20 point gender gap.

Many of his Yale and Harvard peers, once supportive, opposed him after his angry testimony in rebuttal to Dr. Blasey Ford's credible accusations before the Senate Judiciary. Even those related to Kavanaugh's  religion ,  a Jesuit publication , reversed its endorsement and  urged that he not be confirmed. . These are  "no left wing dark money groups" and their opposition is based mostly  on his non-judicial temperament. While much of this arose from his heated appearance before the Senate Judiciary committee, others date to 2006 when the American Bar Association downgraded his evaluation in 2006 because of his dishonesty and temperament, later giving him glowing approval,  and then supporting  the extra FBI investigation after his appearance before the Judiciary committee..
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a Republican,  added his voice to those opposing his confirmation. In 2018 on the eve of the confirmation vote, 2,400 law school professors opposed him because of temperament .Yale drinking buddies attested to his extreme drinking problems.   800 Harvard Law School alums pressured Harvard to drop him as a lecturer . The National Council of Churches opposed his confirmation,too.

When a political operative with an ideological agenda enters the Supreme Court, will the Court be damaged? Politics and party affiliation have always been involved in Court confirmations. However,  Brett Kavanaugh's partisan rant at the hearing, embracing extreme conspiracy theories ,unmasked his real political self. Coupled  with a record of extreme views  on executive powers, birth control, and choice expressed in writings and addresses to various groups, he was not just any Republican, but a hard core ideologue with beliefs about specific issues that are likely to come before the Court.  Particularly un- judge like was  his threat of revenge against his attackers ("what goes around comes around"). Sen. Susan Collins claimed  of  his rulings in lower courts  she reviewed they did not reflect that extremism; let us hope that continues while he is on the bench.  The challenge  for Chief Justice Roberts will be how the Court will  maintain a legitimacy in the eyes of the public as an impartial arbiter of what is and what is not constitutional. Or will the Supreme Court  become  seen and dismissed as a tool of  like minded ideologues who see the Court as a way to implement their policy agenda?

Sen.Susan Collins (R-Me), the critical vote in his confirmation, believes Kavanaugh will not try to overturn Roe v Wade. He views that as settled law, a precedent to be honored, he told her. However, to overturn Roe v Wade was the top priority of Donald Trump's base. How does that work? At least 70% of voters polled by Pew Research oppose overturning Roe v Wade.  Will Roberts prove to be the swing to keep the Court's reputation. as an impartial arbiter, or will Collins have  been fooled? What will happen if the Mueller investigation implicates Pres. Trump and the Court will have to rule on whether a president can be subpoened or if he can pardon himself?   How will Kavanaugh rule, he who even does not believe a sitting President should be the subject of a criminal investigation.  Roberts will find his leadership  sorely tested if he wants to keep the Supreme Court a respected  and legitimate institution.  (The FBI in their extended investigation refused to interview them)

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