Tag Archives: Brett Kavanaugh

SCOTUS justices provide satisfaction

I took more than a little bit of satisfaction from this week’s stunning decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that no president is above the law.

My satisfaction came in the form of two justices’ decision to side with the 7 to 2 majority that declared that Donald Trump cannot invoke presidential immunity no matter what, that a Manhattan, N.Y., prosecutor is entitled to obtain Trump’s financial records in a probe that could result in some serious criminal indictments.

Those two justices happen to Donald Trump’s two nominees to the highest court in America: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Let’s presume Trump’s ignorance of the law and the Constitution for a moment and conclude that the president had hoped Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh would stand with him. I mean, Trump does demand loyalty even from members of an independent and co-equal branch of the federal government. The justices didn’t do as Trump no doubt wanted.

This gives me hope on at least one important matter. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh likely will sit in their high offices long after Trump leaves his office. Trump said he wanted to appoint rock-ribbed, true-blue conservatives to the federal judiciary, which is another way of saying he wants judges who will vote in his favor at all costs.

Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh saw the question arising from the Trump finances case differently. They interpreted the law with no regard to how it might affect Trump’s continuing refusal to release his financial records to prosecutors.

I cannot predict whether Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will continue to demonstrate their judicial independence on future cases. The Supreme Court term has ended; justices will return to the bench in October, just ahead of the November presidential election.

I am hoping the election will deliver a new president who then will take over the appointment powers from a president who doesn’t grasp that the concept of an independent judiciary is inscribed in our nation’s governing document.

I am going to hope that the men who ended up on the court because Donald Trump nominated them will continue to exhibit the independence they showed in determining that no one — not even the president of the United States — is immune from criminal prosecution.

Biden is not Kavanaugh

I feel the need to look briefly at two men who faced allegations of sexual assault. One of them has been a known quantity to Americans for nearly 50 years; the other one burst on the national scene only two years ago.

Americans know plenty about Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee. Tara Reade has accused him of sexual assault in a 1993 incident on Capitol Hill. Biden became a national figure the  moment he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972; he was 29 years of age at the time of his election. Then his wife and daughter died in a tragic auto accident. He took office under the crushing burden of unfathomable grief.

Yes, we know Joe Biden. No one ever has said anything publicly about this man being the kind of beast that Tara Reade alleges he became when he assaulted her.

What’s more, don’t you think Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, would have vetted Biden with utmost care and diligence when he selected him as vice president in 2008?

Then we have Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Donald Trump nominated him to the high court in 2018. Few of us knew a thing about Kavanaugh when he got the nod to join the court. Then up stepped Christine Ford, who accused him of sexually assaulting her when they both were much younger. Kavanaugh denied the allegation angrily.

The difference between Biden and Kavanaugh, I submit, merely rests in what we know about both men. I feel as though I know Biden, given that I have watched his public career from afar almost since the moment he joined the Senate in 1973. I find it difficult to believe he would behave with such boorishness as has been alleged. Justice Kavanaugh? I know next to nothing about him, other than his conservative judicial philosophy. I cannot make any kind of determination on the veracity of the allegation brought against him.

Joe Biden is another sort of politician altogether. I am going to stand with the former vice president until Tara Reade can persuade me she is telling the whole truth. I don’t believe she will deliver the goods.

Biden faces stern test of his character

Well now, an interview that Joe Biden thought might quash concerns about a sexual assault allegation likely has done nothing of the sort.

The former two-term vice president of the United States and presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president has been accused by former Biden staffer Tara Reade of sexually assaulting her. Reade says that in 1993 Biden pinned her against a wall and groped her.

Biden went on the air this morning to deny categorically the allegation. He told MSBNC’s Mika Brzezinski that the incident never happened. He didn’t question Reade’s motives. Biden said no one on his staff ever reported anything resembling what Reade has alleged.

Furthermore, Biden today announced he has asked the secretary of the U.S. Senate to obtain personnel records from the National Archives that would contain any formal complaint that Reade might have filed and release them to the public. Biden said the archived record would contain nothing of what Reade has alleged.

Is that good enough? Will it quell the questions? Will it stop Donald Trump’s slime machine from kicking into high gear? Hah! No to all of it!

I am inclined to believe Biden, but you likely have assumed that already. Fine, assume all you want. I also believe we need to examine fully the veracity of what Tara Reade has alleged and come to a conclusion on its validity.

Yes, this episode has the sort of echo that resonated when Christine Blasey Ford alleged sexual misconduct by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when the two of them were much younger. Ford got her public hearing, as did Kavanaugh. The U.S. Senate confirmed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the story of what she alleged has more or less gone dormant.

Meanwhile, the president of the United States has been accused by more than 20 women of assorted acts of sexual misbehavior. Donald Trump has denied all of it; he has called the women liars and worse. Accordingly, he has suggested that Reade’s allegation might be as false as the accusations he has said were leveled against him. Of course, we have heard that hideous recording of Trump regaling “Access Hollywood” about how he sought to have sex with a married woman and how his celebrity status allowed him to grab women by their genitals. What a guy.

Whatever. This matter needs a resolution.

My own belief is that Joe Biden has been a national political figure since the moment he was sworn into the Senate in 1973. He took office under the most extreme duress imaginable, having lost his wife and daughter in a tragic auto accident in late 1972.

He and his second wife, Jill Biden, have been at the forefront of any number of social issues, involving protection against women facing sexual assault. Therefore, I would be astonished beyond all measure to learn that Joe Biden — of all people — would have behaved in the hideous manner that Tara Reade has alleged.

Let’s get to the truth.

Time to treat this accusation with the seriousness it deserves

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

OK, ladies and gentlemen, fair is fair and my instinct for fairness compels me to say something painful.

I admire former Vice President Joe Biden. I want him to win the next presidential election. I believe he should win. I believe his character, his knowledge and his qualifications far exceed those of the incumbent, Donald Trump.

However, he has a storm cloud brewing high overhead. We need to get a resolution to the disturbance that is bound to erupt.

Tara Reade has accused Biden of sexual assault. I don’t necessarily believe that he assaulted her in 1993 as she has alleged. She only recently came forward. However, what I believe is not at issue here. The issue rests on whether the media are covering this story with the same zeal that they did with the allegations leveled in 2018 by Christine Ford against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

They are not. They should get to the bottom of what has been alleged. It needs to be resolved, if that is possible, immediately.

Joe Biden himself declared that a woman who levels an accusation of the nature that Ford did against Kavanaugh needs to be taken seriously. Has that standard changed now that Tara Reade has emerged as an accuser of a highly placed politician who well might become the next president of the United States? Of course it hasn’t!

Biden has denied the accusation categorically. So did Kavanaugh while he was being scrutinized during his Senate confirmation hearing. Ford’s allegation caused me some proverbial heartburn when she came forth. So is Tara Reade’s accusation.

We need a full vetting of what she has alleged. We need it settled. Then we need to get to the task of tossing Donald Trump out of office.

What? Lawyers shouldn’t be allowed to ask AG key questions?

U.S. Attorney General William Barr will be a no-show Thursday at the House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The AG doesn’t want to be quizzed by committee staff lawyers, which is what Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler had planned for his testimony.

Hey, wait a second!

Let’s recall the confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. A woman had come forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both much younger. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducted the hearing, decided to punt on questioning the woman, Christine Ford, who testified before the panel.

Committee Republicans handed off the questioning of Ford to — are you ready for it? — staff lawyers!

So, what was good enough for an accuser testifying at that earlier hearing ought to be good enough for the attorney general. Isn’t that fair?

What’s more, Congress is entitled under Article I of the U.S. Constitution to set its own rules for the way it conducts its hearings. That decision doesn’t rest with those who testify before a congressional panel.

Thus, Attorney General William Barr is reaching way beyond his grasp in declaring he won’t appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

It was a ‘job interview,’ not a criminal proceeding

I am going to revisit an issue I once declared was done. I’ll be brief, so bear with me.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh went through a grueling confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee because of an accusation leveled against him by Christine Blasey Ford, who said when the two of them were teenagers, he sexually assaulted her.

Kavanaugh denied it in the strongest terms possible. Most of the Senate believed him, despite Ford’s compelling testimony that it happened.

Was the justice applying for a lifetime job on the highest court in the land or was he being grilled in a criminal investigation,  you know, by prosecutors and cops. Well, it was the former. He was seeking to be confirmed after Donald J. Trump nominated him.

I, too, have been able to interview applicants for jobs. I was able to hire individuals who worked under my supervision. I have had to let a couple of them go over time. It’s not fun.

Here’s the question of the day: Were I to hear of an allegation of a sex crime leveled against someone who wanted to work for me, would I presume them to be innocent until they are proven guilty? No. I would consider that a disqualifier. I would be under no obligation to presume anyone’s innocence if I perceived the allegation to have a lick of credibility.

That appeared to be the issue facing Judiciary Committee members and then the full Senate when they pondered Kavanaugh’s fitness for the job he was seeking.

I want to circle back to a point I made in an earlier blog post. Justice Kavanaugh’s position as a “job applicant” did not rise to the level of criminal defendant. He wasn’t answering questions in a courtroom. He wasn’t being grilled by cops. He was being questioned by politicians who were considering whether to hire him for a lifetime job on the nation’s highest court.

Well, it all went for naught. Kavanaugh was confirmed. He’s now on the court. He’ll be there for the next umpteen years, making decisions on the constitutionality of some of the most controversial issues of our time.

Did he do the terrible things his accuser said he did? We’ll never know … will we. As a former employer, I would not want to live with such uncertainty hanging over someone who works for me.

Early votes keeping piling up

Texas well might be on the verge of shucking a title I am quite certain Texans don’t want their state to hold.

The Texas Tribune reports that in several of the state’s most-populated counties, the 2018 early vote totals have surpassed the entire number of ballots cast during the entire early voting period during the 2014 midterm election.

Texas, sadly, is known to be one of the country’s most underperforming states in terms of voter turnout, particularly during these off-year elections. Is that going to change?

There appears to be no letup in store during this year’s early voting season leading up to Election Day on Nov. 6.

Democratic partisans suggest the huge spike in this balloting bodes well for their candidates. Republican partisans counter that their folks are energized, too, which will benefit the GOP slate of candidates.

I’m out of the loop. I haven’t spoken to party officials on either side in Collin County, one of the state’s larger counties. Collin County is known to be a heavily Republican bastion, although it’s not nearly as dependably Republican as Randall County, where my wife and I lived for 23 years before moving to the Metroplex earlier this year.

The question facing congressional candidates in places like Collin County rests with how “suburban women” are going to vote. We live in a suburban county populated by many thousands of such women who well might be turned off by the rhetoric that comes from those on the right and far right. The Senate hearings to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh brought many of their concerns to the fore, given the accusation leveled against Kavanaugh by a woman who alleges he assaulted her sexually in the early 1980s.

Does this represent a groundswell against Republican candidates for Congress — for the House and Senate? Democratic senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke’s supporters certainly hope so.

Oh, one more thing: I hope so, too.

Kavanaugh not proven ‘innocent’

The president of the United States keeps opening his mouth about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation process, tugging me back into that fray.

I won’t plunge directly into the back-and-forth of that debate, but I do want to say something briefly about Donald Trump’s apology to Justice Kavanaugh and his family. He delivered the apology at the start of a White House ceremonial swearing in of the new justice.

He said that Kavanaugh was “proven innocent” of the allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman when the two of them were teenagers in the early 1980s.

Umm. How do I say this? No. He wasn’t proven innocent of anything.

The FBI came back with that perfunctory “investigation” into the allegation. It determined there was no “corroborating evidence” to back up the accusation delivered by Christine Blasey Ford.

That, Mr. President, does not constitute a declaration of “innocence.” It said the FBI couldn’t verify a contention. It doesn’t wipe the allegation away.

My request now is this: Let the new justice get to work, Mr. President … and keep your mouth shut. You, too, have more relevant things to keep you busy.

‘Lies and deception’? Really, Mr. President?

I cannot believe I just heard the president of the United States utter these words.

Donald Trump today opened a White House ceremony welcoming newly minted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh with an apology. He sought to apologize to the justice’s wife and daughters for what he called a campaign of “lies and deception” that led up to Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

I promised I wouldn’t talk about the Kavanaugh confirmation process. So, I won’t go there.

I do want to call attention to the campaign of “lies and deception” that Donald Trump himself waged against his Republican primary foes and against Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton while winning the presidency in 2016. The utter gall, the brass, the absolute absence of self-awareness from the president is simply breathtaking.

He sought to implicate Sen. Ted Cruz’s father in President Kennedy’s assassination; he denigrated the service of his GOP foes; he hung hideous “nicknames” on many of them; then he went after Hillary Clinton, leading campaign-rally chants to “lock her up!” even in the absence of any evidence of criminality.

And I haven’t mentioned, until right now, the hideous and unfounded denigration he tossed at all those who oppose him.

To hear, therefore, the president talk about “lies and deception” is laughable on its face.

Except that it’s not funny.

Time to move on from Kavanaugh fight

I cannot guarantee it, sign it in blood or put my name on a sworn document, but this might be my final blog post … on the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation conflict.

The man is now on the U.S. Supreme Court. He will take his oath of office yet again in a prime-time TV event at the White House. The president will be there, no doubt to crow about the victory he and his fellow Republicans scored in securing Kavanaugh’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

The road to confirmation was rocky in the extreme. You know how I feel about, so I won’t belabor the point.

I guess this is my way of saying that because I was a bit late in concluding Kavanaugh didn’t belong on the court I won’t keep fighting a battle that’s been lost.

The other side won. I’ll leave the on-going fight to others.

I do intend to watch Justice Kavanaugh’s record on high court ruling and plan to comment on those rulings as they develop.

The fight for the rights of sexual assault and sexual abuse victims overall, of course, is worth continuing. I’ll keep my head in that fight, too, as it goes on.

However, my commentary on whether Brett Kavanaugh is fit for service on the high court has come to an end.

More than likely.

Oh, as for the man who nominated Justice Kavanaugh to that post — the president of the United States? I intend fully to stay engaged in that discussion over his fitness — or lack thereof — for the job he occupies.