Tag Archives: Senate Judiciary Committee

Goodbye, AG Sessions … and, yes, good riddance

I feel the need to set the record straight about former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I have spent some time commenting positively about on this blog for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe into the Donald Trump presidential campaign. He faced a clear conflict of interest when he took the job as AG because of his campaign role as a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump.

He was involved at some level with the Russians who made contact with the campaign. There were questions about an investigation. Sessions had to recuse himself because of the conflict of interest.

I applauded him for that singular act.

However, he shouldn’t have been selected AG in the first place. The man “earned” the nomination because he was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy.

Prior to his becoming a senator, though, Sessions took on a serious blot on his public service record.

He served as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. President Reagan nominated him in 1986 to a federal judgeship. Then questions surfaced about Sessions’s comments regarding the Ku Klux Klan. Witnesses testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions reportedly had given KKK members a pass until he learned that they “smoked pot.” Four Justice Department lawyers testified they heard Sessions make racist remarks.

The committee eventually voted 10-8 against his nomination. It went to the full Senate for a vote and senators rejected Sessions for the federal bench.

What did he do then? He ran for the Senate in 1996 — and won! He served in the Senate for 20 years until Trump tapped him to lead the Justice Department. He didn’t stand out during his Senate years. Sessions, though, did manage to get embraced by Trump.

Am I glad he’s gone from the Justice Department? Yes and no. I am unhappy that his resignation now clears the decks for Trump to nominate someone who endorses his view about Mueller’s investigation.

Overall, though, I won’t shed a tear that he’s gone. His pre-Senate history was a deal breaker from the get-go.

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.

Did the judge make an empty promise? Let’s hope not

Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

I don’t believe he belongs there, but that’s not my call. Texas’s two U.S. senators are going to vote for his confirmation, along with at least 48 of their colleagues. That puts he count at 50 “yes” votes; Vice President Mike Pence will be standing by to break the tie.

OK, that all said, Kavanaugh has made a promise to be an “impartial” justice once he joins the highest court in America. He wrote the op-ed column for the Wall Street Journal in an extraordinary last-minute pitch to the Senate to confirm him.

He had to write it, given his ghastly response to the criticism of his nomination in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations leveled against him. He blamed his troubles on a “left-wing” hit job from those who sought “revenge for the Clintons.”

Wow, man!

It is fair to wonder — so I will do so — whether Kavanaugh’s pledge of impartiality and fairness from the SCOTUS bench is an empty one. He is going to ascend to the highest judicial post in America and it’s a lifetime job at that! It’s his for as long as he wants it, or for as long as he draws breath.

I want to believe that he can be the kind of justice he pledges to be. The skeptic in me, based on his performance at that supplemental Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, makes me wonder whether he can keep that promise.

Judges who get these lifetime jobs are free to rule however they wish, within the constraints of the U.S. Constitution. They have no elections awaiting them. Sure, they can be impeached, but the bar for judicial impeachment is at least as high as it is for a presidential impeachment.

Those of us who oppose Kavanaugh’s appointment are left to hope for the best … even as we fear the worst.

Kavanaugh headed to SCOTUS?

The fix is in. The deal appears to be done. Barring some remarkable change of mind and heart among key U.S. senators, a deeply flawed nominee is heading for the ninth seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh stands accused — still! — of sexual assault by a woman who accused him of attacking her when they were teenagers.

Christine Blasey Ford testified to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh did as she has alleged. She said she is “100 percent certain” her attacker was young Brett.

Kavanaugh denies it.

He disqualified himself, though, in my mind with his highly partisan attack on those who have opposed his nomination by Donald J. Trump. He blamed those who seek “revenge” on behalf of Bill and Hillary Clinton and then said their effort was being financed by “left-wing” political interest groups.

Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell are delivering the mother of all bum’s rushes in pushing this nomination forward. The FBI conducted a perfunctory examination of Kavanaugh and the allegation against him. It didn’t bother to talk to Ford, which I would have thought would have been a no-brainer.

The report now is in the hands of senators, Democrats and Republicans. It needs to be made public, given that Kavanaugh appears headed to a lifetime post on the nation’s highest court — which is paid for with money that comes out of my pocket … and yours!

The very best I could have hoped for would have been for Kavanaugh to set aside politics as he pondered how to rule on cases that come before the court. His performance at the supplemental hearing dashed that hope for me.

Newspapers are editorializing against Kavanaugh’s nomination. A retired Supreme Court justice, John Paul Stevens — confirmed in 1975 after being nominated by President Ford — said he has changed his mind and now opposes him. Demonstrators are marching in streets. Politicians are making speeches opposing Kavanaugh.

Will any of this matter? Will anyone’s minds be changed? Probably not. I’m left, therefore, to say a prayer for us as we recover from the circus we’ve just witnessed.

‘Falsus in omnibus’ argument haunts this senator

I cannot remain silent on a minor back story involving the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

It involves the questioning by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat who had the gall to lecture Kavanaugh about the hazards of lying about “one thing.”

Blumenthal sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. His path to the Senate came amid some controversy of its own, involving Blumenthal’s own lying.

You see, the senator who’s been in public life for a long time, had been lying about his so-called service in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. As the saying goes … oops! He set never foot in-country during the Vietnam War.

As the New York Times columnist Bret Stephens noted, he is “grateful” for Donald Trump for calling Blumenthal out on his sheer hypocrisy. Stephens wrote this: ” … Richard Blumenthal lecturing Kavanaugh on the legal concept of falsus in omnibus — false in one false in one thing, false in everything — when the senator … lied shamelessly for years about his military service. And then feeling grateful to Trump for having the simple nerve to point out the naked hypocrisy.”

You see, those of us who did set foot in-country during the Vietnam War take this kind of lie quite seriously. It’s the kind of lie I cannot look past when I hear a politician pontificate about truth-telling to another public figure.

Sen. Blumenthal’s hypocrisy doesn’t change my mind about Kavanaugh’s nomination to join the nation’s highest court. It just galls me in the extreme to hear a politician say something he ought to know would come back to bite him in the backside.

How will this donnybrook finish?

Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh insists he won’t withdraw his name from consideration to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Then again, that’s what they all say … until they do what they say they won’t do.

Donald Trump’s nominee to the high court is facing serious accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman in 1982; two other women have leveled similar charges. The FBI is looking once again at Kavanaugh’s background.

Three U.S. senators — all Republicans — stand at the center of this political tumult. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine are officially “undecided” on how they will vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. If two of them turn against Kavanaugh, it’s over, assuming that the Democratic Senate minority stands together in opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination.

If the FBI determines that Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about what he did back in the old days, well, that also is a deal breaker.

I cannot begin to predict it’ll happen, but I’ll just say I won’t be surprised if in the next 24 hours or so that Kavanaugh does what he says he will never do — and withdraws his name from consideration.

Hey, stranger things have happened.

Example? Donald Trump got elected president of the United States of America.

Perjury: a SCOTUS dealbreaker for certain

The FBI has embarked on an investigation into whether Brett Kavanaugh is a suitable choice to take his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nominee stands accused of sexual assault. He has denied it vehemently. His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has affirmed her allegation with equal vehemence. He said, she said … blah, blah, blah.

The fate of Kavanaugh’s court nomination, however, might hinge on whether he lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about how much beer he drank while he was in high school. No kidding, man! That’s the deal — maybe, perhaps, possibly.

If the FBI determines that he lied under oath to the Senate panel, well, it’s over. Kavanaugh shouldn’t be seated on the nation’s highest court.

Let us also remember that in 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives — led by its Republican majority — was looking for a reason to impeach President Bill Clinton. The president gave it to them when it was determined he lied — also under oath — to a federal grand jury about whether he had a sexual relationship with a White House intern.

The House impeached the president. The Senate tried him, but he was acquitted.

The clear lesson here for Judge Kavanaugh is that the oath he took to tell the whole truth before the Senate committee is every bit as binding as the oath that President Clinton took to tell the truth to the grand jury.

How would ‘Justice’ Kavanaugh handle this?

Brett Kavanaugh’s future as a possible U.S. Supreme Court justice is in doubt. However, his nomination to the court is far from a dead duck.

The FBI is conducting an investigation into at least two of the accusations that Kavanaugh assaulted women sexually many years ago. The U.S. Senate will then get to vote on whether to confirm him.

Suppose, then, he becomes Justice Brett Kavanaugh. What happens when the court gets a case involving the constitutionality, say, of a court ruling involving a case involving sexual assault?

Might that happen? Well, it damn sure could. Given all the attendant publicity that has erupted around Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation process, I doubt seriously anyone down the road is going to forget what we’ve heard about what allegedly occurred when Kavanaugh was a high school student. That he allegedly pinned a young woman to a bed, sought to disrobe her, sought to have his way with her sexually.

How does a Supreme Court justice with that kind of accusation hanging over his head rule on a future case involving a similar circumstance?

‘Look at me when I talk to you!’

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake got a first-hand lesson today on the value of “constituent service.”

He walked into an elevator and was accosted by two women who just couldn’t understand why the Arizona Republican would support the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

They pleaded with Flake to stand up for the victims of sexual assault, which Kavanaugh has been accused of committing by Christine Blasey Ford.

Flake then came back to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room and, prior to voting “yes” on recommending Kavanaugh’s confirmation by the entire Senate, asked for a one-week delay on the full Senate vote, pending the outcome of an FBI investigation into the allegations leveled against Kavanaugh.

Now, I don’t know if the women who scolded Flake were actual Arizona constituents; they likely weren’t.

But … the point is that these women had something important to say to the lame-duck Republican senator and one of them implored Flake to “Look at me when I talk to you!”

Flake did look at her and he seemingly listened to what she had to say.

The Senate has agreed to hold off for a week before voting on whether to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination. Donald Trump has issued an order to the FBI to conduct a limited investigation into the specific allegations leveled against the man he wants to seat on the nation’s highest court.

This is representative democracy at work!

Judge shows his partisan streak

I now believe that if Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be disqualified from serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, he demonstrated that reason with his impassioned denial of the accusation of a sexual assault.

He came off as a partisan. Kavanaugh managed to blame the assault on his character on those who were angry that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election and “left-wing” political activists who oppose him for his judicial philosophy.

I am scratching my head and am trying to remember when I’ve ever heard a Supreme Court nominee resort to that kind of attack.

Robert Bork didn’t assert partisan angst in 1987; Clarence Thomas didn’t blame Democrats for the troubles he encountered in 1991. The Senate rejected Bork’s nomination and barely approved Thomas’s selection to the high court.

Brett Kavanaugh, though, has just revealed his deep bias against Democrats and political progressive who, in his mind, are out to destroy his nomination to the nation’s highest court.

I already have stated my belief in the accusation brought by Christine Blasey Ford who contends that Kavanaugh assaulted her sexually when they were teenagers. But when Kavanaugh sat down in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his anger was palpable, as was his deep bias against those with political views that differ from his own.

Yes, I intended to keep an open mind with regard to Brett Kavanaugh. For the longest time I was able to meet that standard.

My formerly open mind has closed. I have heard enough, from Christine Ford and from Judge Kavanaugh. Moreover, I have seen enough from Kavanaugh to believe that he cannot interpret the U.S. Constitution dispassionately without regard to political motivations of those who might present cases before the Supreme Court.

Weird.