Friday, 28 September 2018 15:10

How do Congress, US Supreme Court get back their reputations post-Kavanaugh display

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The losers in the Sept. 27, 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Donald Trumps SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, were the Supreme Court and women. The court took a hit because of the nominee’s erratic showing and women lost, predictably, when they mattered less to Republicans than Kavanaugh’s reputation. The majority’s patronization became clearer over time, culminating in a leading senator’s rant.

From the opening gavel, Judge Kavanaugh shouted, cried, and threw a tantrum, or two. He told everyone what a good guy he was and blamed his woes on a fiendish conspiracy by the Clintons. The judge had tears in his eyes, and his throat caught, when he told the panel that his two young daughters had been praying for the woman, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who’d accused him of sexual assault and battery during Kavanaugh’s boozy high school years. It’s a beautiful image but women, who’ve long resented having their allegations against men  questioned, may see it in a more ironic than affectionate light.

Its unclear how the testimony of Kavanaugh and his accuser can be reconciled. A best case scenario would be if each told the truth as they perceived it, but that’s, probably, overly utopian. Republicans, unfortunately, missed the opportunity to directly confront victimization by delegating their questioning of Dr. Ford to an out-of-her-league sex crimes prosecutor from the legal backwater of Maricopa County, AZ. Women will hold this cowardice against them.

Kavanaugh rested his defense on a stellar reputation, academic and professional accomplishments, and efforts to advance women and help girls. These undeniable achievements, however, do not prove, as a matter of law, that the youthful Kavanaugh didnt lose sight of his better angels when drinking. Just as prior bad acts cannot be used in court to prove a defendant committed the crime for which he stands accused, prior good acts dont prove a defendant has always been well behaved.


Dr. Ford freely admitted memory gaps and certain imprecisions as to time and place. These lapses, experts agree, are common in cases of emotional trauma, this one forty years removed. At this juncture, it’s  important how Kavanaugh dealt with the allegations, maybe as much as their content. Ford was poignant and her denial of political motivation was believable. Kavanaugh’s denials were less persuasive, especially when he blamed liberals, and anyone but himself, for the present state. It was karmic coming from a man who relentlessly pursued Bill Clinton for a consensual affair with an intern in a raw display of partisanship.

The pain Dr. Ford evinced during her level testimony was palpable in contrast to Kavanaughs emotions which seemed forced, at times, and reflected an extreme lability. Hopefully he was being real but it, also, might’ve  been a skillful deflection by a man who reads people for a living. There’s, also, the hidden component to Kavanaugh’s conspiracy theories. If the judge truly believes them, then its not too early to ask how dispassionately he can adjudicate future cases brought before him by the ACLU, Democrats, or any liberal group. Kavanaugh, unnecessarily, has politicized his own future and provided another reason why he shouldn’t be confirmed.

As a result of the hearing a new issue arises in the form of Canon 3A(3) Code of Conduct for United States Judges:A judge should be patient, dignified, respectful, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity. A judge should require similar conduct of those subject to the judges control, including lawyers to the extent consistent with their role in the adversary process.

Respectfully submitted.

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