By Art Parker
Being Monday night, the eve of the Tuesday runoff election, I can’t comment on the outcome other than to say congratulations to the winners and condolences to the losers. However it takes little imagination to look down the road and see the next political battle that will generate the spewing of hate and meanness. It is the only time, other than a Presidential election, where the two wings of the political spectrum behave like untrained canines and treat their opponents like fire hydrants.
It is time for the vicious prelude and eventual nasty hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that will take center stage when examining a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The forthcoming process holds all promise of being a Gunfight at The O.K. Corral.
In my opinion the redundant viciousness began in earnest in July 1987 when President Ronald Reagan nominated former Solicitor General Robert Bork to replace Lewis Powell, who was then considered a moderate. If remember correctly, Bork was a founding father of what many constitutionalists call “original intent,” an interpretation by judges to apply the Constitution as it was understood at the time it was drafted and ratified.
The original intent doctrine and his close ties to former President Richard Nixon made Bork an easier target than a three legged buck in a baited field. The Democrats controlled the Senate at the time and hence had control of the Judiciary Committee. By the time the committee was finished rejecting Bork he had more holes in him than a gangster at a Mafia execution. The full Senate rejected Bork and from then on a SCOTUS nomination has turned into a war zone.
Probably what made sure there will never be a cease fire was the confirmation of Clarence Thomas in 1991. The Democrats were still in control of the Senate and the common thread between the Bork and Thomas hearings was the Committee Chairman, former VP Joe Biden.
George Bush (one) nominated Thomas, an African-American judge who had little experience on the bench. It was really a poor choice by Bush and, in my opinion, Thomas was nominated because he was replacing Thurgood Marshall, the first black to be a justice. It was a rough ride for Thomas and then it became almost impossible when a former employee of his accused him of sexual harassment. The final days of the Thomas hearing was like watching “Days of Our Lives,” or the Dallas’ episode of “Who shot J.R.” While the Democrats hammered and ambushed Thomas relentlessly, the great moral compass of their party Ted “Chappaquiddick” Kennedy stayed out of the sexual harassment discussion by throwing Thomas unrelated softball questions (I wonder why). This publicly televised charade caused a deep division in our country. Thomas, who I felt was very unqualified for the court, was confirmed by the entire Senate and remains on the court today. Thomas got the last laugh and became a puppet of the most conservative justice Antonin Scalia. Thomas pretty much did whatever Scalia did until Scalia’s death in 2016.
So here we are. It is not going to get any better. The Democrats will go after this next nominee like there is no tomorrow. Brett Kavanaugh will soon face the Judiciary Committee. The difference is that the committee and the Senate is controlled by Republicans. The Democrats would probably be more open to Kavanaugh if he had been nominated by anyone except Donald Trump. While I am not Trump’s biggest fan it is clear to me that the Democrats will quit eating bacon and eggs if they think that Trump eats that for breakfast every morning. One of the Dems anti-Trump leaders is on the Judiciary Committee, Cory Booker from New Jersey. Booker is out of control and behaves like a cry baby who didn’t get to be in the sand box. I can’t imagine what we will see from Booker during the committee hearings.
I think the Democrats need to calm down about this nominee. Kavanaugh, while being labeled a conservative, appears to be in the same boat with the soon to be retired Anthony Kennedy. I think Kavanaugh will be an open minded justice like Kennedy and, once confirmed, may instantly become the swing vote on the court. In my book that is a good thing.
I believe Kavanaugh deserves a shot. I can promise my Democrat friends that Trump could have really given them something to scream about. He could have easily found another Antonin Scalia.