Tag Archives: Senate Judiciary Committee

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.


Now the SCOTUS fight is on hold, waiting for the FBI

The U.S. Senate has done the correct thing in delaying the confirmation vote on the man who wants to join the U.S. Supreme Court. It will wait a week to allow the FBI to do — presumably — a thorough check on some serious allegations leveled against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

It all came to a head this morning when Senate Judiciary Committee member Jeff Flake asked for the delay, sought the FBI investigation and seemed to attach his upcoming Senate vote on whether the Republican leadership would agree to his request.

It did. So now Kavanaugh gets to wait another week.

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two of them were in high school. Kavanaugh denies her allegation.

I am one American who believes Ford, but I’m sitting out here in the Flyover Country peanut gallery.

The FBI probe well might produce some more evidence to either prove or disprove what Ford has alleged. The FBI ought to talk to a Kavanaugh friend who reportedly witnessed what Ford has alleged occurred.

I have to hand it to Sen. Flake, a lame-duck Republican, who’s going out with a serious bang. He isn’t running for re-election, but he isn’t going out quietly.

I have sought to keep an open mind on this nomination. I have concluded that I believe Ford. Thus, I don’t believe Kavanaugh should get a lifetime job handing out opinions at the highest level of our nation’s judicial system.

However, I want to maintain my open mind as far as the FBI probe goes. I just want it done thoroughly and that the FBI reaches some conclusion about the veracity of what has been alleged.

Let the probe begin.

Senate causes heads to spin

My noggin is spinning.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has voted 11-10 — along partisan lines — to recommend confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But, man, there’s a major catch in that vote.

One of the committee Republicans, Jeff Flake, wants the FBI to conduct an investigation into the allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Ford when they were in high school; he wants the Senate to delay its full floor vote for a week to enable the FBI to learn more about what allegedly happened.

It’s now up to Donald Trump, the president of the United States, to issue the order to the FBI.

Without an investigation, Flake might become a “no” vote if a full Senate vote occurs with an FBI probe. So might two other key GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.

I’m doing the math. That leaves the Senate GOP with 48 votes to confirm Kavanaugh.

They need50.

Are we clear now? Clear as mud?

I’m thinking now of Winston Churchill’s classic analysis of democracy, how it’s the “worst system” of government ever devised … but it’s the best system we can have.

It’s messy, folks.

SCOTUS picks, then and now

Let’s review briefly the course that two U.S. Supreme Court nominations took.

In early 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia died. President Barack Obama not long afterward nominated Judge Merrick Garland to succeed the conservative judicial icon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t wait for the nomination to come forward. He declared within hours of Scalia’s death that Obama would not replace Justice Scalia under any circumstance.

The SCOTUS seat remained vacant for the rest of that year. Donald Trump got elected president and then nominated Neil Gorsuch. The Senate heard from the nominee, then confirmed him.

It was the delay that enraged so many Americans.

The Republican Senate majority had no problem dragging its feet to await the outcome of the 2016 election.

What a change has occurred.

Justice Anthony Kennedy retired from the Supreme Court. The president then nominated Brett Kavanaugh to succeed him. Judge Kavanaugh went through the confirmation hearing before the Judiciary Committee. Then a woman came forward to allege that the nominee assaulted her sexually when they were in high school. Then we hear from two more women who said essentially the same thing.

The GOP majority was having none of it. The committee heard from one of the women and from Kavanaugh.

Now the Judiciary panel is going to vote today whether to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination. The majority says it cannot wait. It has to rush this nomination forward. The questions about what happened in the early 1980s? Hey, minds are made up.

Let’s rush forward.

So … one president’s nomination gets stonewalled for a year. Another one’s selection hops on the fast track.

To think that Majority Leader McConnell has the gall to accuse the other side of “playing politics.”

After the hearing, they’re going to vote anyway … wow!

A congressional hearing that was billed as a seminal moment in U.S. political history has produced, um, apparently nothing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee — which heard from two people at the center of a firestorm — is going to vote Friday on whether to confirm one of those principals to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

To which I only can say: Holy cow, man!

Judge Brett Kavanaugh denied passionately the accusation leveled by Christine Blasey Ford. They both talked to the Senate committee. Ford said Kavanaugh attacked her when they were both in high school; Kavanaugh denied it.

Who’s more credible? I believe Professor Ford.

Thus, I would hope the Senate panel would delay this confirmation vote until it could gather more information.

The so-called “elephant in the hearing room” was a man who reportedly witnessed the alleged attack. That would be Mark Judge, a friend of Kavanaugh. Judge has been nowhere to be seen or heard.

I believe Judge should testify as well.

It won’t happen, apparently. The Judiciary Committee is stampeding forward — or so it appears — with a vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh’s nomination.

This process has been called a “disgrace” and a “sham” by those who support Judge Kavanaugh. I agree with them. It has been both of those things.

The disgraceful sham, though, well might play out when the Senate Judiciary Committee rushes to judgment with its vote.

Strangest Senate hearing in history? Yep, it sure is

Congratulations, my fellow Americans.

We likely are witnessing the most bizarre Senate confirmation hearing in the history of the republic.

Brett Kavanaugh is trying to protect his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court against an allegation by a college professor that he assaulted her when they were both in high school.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegation vehemently; Christine Blasey Ford, the alleged victim, has just as vehemently asserted the veracity of the accusation she has leveled.

The weirdest part of this hearing has been the way the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted its questioning.

Republicans who support Kavanaugh didn’t question Ford directly. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley brought in a ringer, a sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona named Rachel Mitchell to speak on behalf of Republican senators. The panel’s Democratic members did question Ford directly.

When it was Kavanaugh’s turn to answer questions, he fielded them from senators from both parties.

I have drawn one conclusion from the tactic employed by the GOP side with regard to Ford. It is that the GOP senators — all of whom are men — don’t have the confidence to ask a female accuser intensely personal questions involving an alleged sex crime.

What might have spooked them? It must be that they couldn’t engage in a discussion without uttering something, anything that observers would deem offensive.

So they handed the heavy lift off to the prosecutor who, in my view, did a credible job on behalf of the Senate committee Republicans.

Still, it was downright weird to watch a surrogate do the work that should have been done by the men who comprise slightly more than one-half of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Indeed, this confirmation process is exhibiting signs that it is hurtling toward an equally weird conclusion.