By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
The great Motown singing group The Supremes had a big hit called “You Can’t Hurry Love.” But what is the rush in getting Judge Brett Kavanaugh safely ensconced on the United States Supreme Court for the rest of his life?
What seemed like a fairly easy road to confirmation albeit partisan is now is now filled with land mines for Brett Kavanaugh. Three weeks ago after the hearings ended, Kavanaugh seemed to answer all the questions in a knowledgeable and legally astute way. Sure he dodged the tough ones like how he might vote on abortion rights and presidential authority, but in fairness, so do all nominees, pretty much. There is no question that his qualifications from the standpoint of experience and scholarship are impressive.
The opposition to Mr. Kavanaugh did not stem from whether or not he was qualified, but rather how he might vote on critical issues and the belief that he will tilt the court unalterably to the political right. His predecessor Justice Anthony Kennedy was considered a centrist. That lurch to the right could easily last for a generation or more.
Moreover, the Democrats are still smarting over the fact that when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, also impeccably qualified in February of 2016, the Republicans who controlled the Senate refused to allow a vote or even a hearing on that nomination. They did so in the hopes that a Republican would win the presidency later that year who would then make the selection. And they succeeded. The court remained without a ninth member for over a year until President Trump named conservative Neil Gorsuch in 2017.
But in spite of the Democrats’ worries about Mr. Kavanaugh, he was on his way to being confirmed by the Republican majority in the Senate…that is until two weeks ago.
Kavanaugh has been accused by a former high school acquaintance of attacking her during a teenage drinking party. It is alleged he tried to rape her. She never publicly told her story before, never reported the assault to law enforcement. She is said to have related this trauma to her therapist back in 2012, well before Kavanaugh was a political commodity of the highest order.
So we are left with troubling questions, some of which may never be satisfactorily answered. Why did the accuser wait so long to report this incident? Is the accuser’s account accurate? Could she be mistaken as to her assailant? Why is the Republican majority so intent on getting this nominee confirmed before the November elections? Why will the Senate not allow other potential witnesses to come before the Senate to discuss their knowledge of the accusations? Some of those questions may be answered this week, but most will not. And now fresh allegations and questions of personal impropriety are surfacing by other women. Does any of this matter?
The President and his allies in the Senate have agreed to provide an opportunity for both Mr. Kavanaugh and his first accuser to testify…but nobody else. That will result in a “she said/he said” situation. Whom do you believe? Many Republican Senators already have reached their own decision without even hearing from the parties and they have said so, as has President Trump. So what’s the point of all this besides giving the illusion of fairness and objectivity?
Donald Trump and the Senate Republicans want this nomination to go through at any cost. Why? Because if Brett Kavanaugh fails to get confirmed or withdraws it is unlikely that another person can be named and vetted before the start of 2019. They know it is possible that the Democrats could win control of the Senate in November. The Democrats need to gain only two seats in the General Elections. Should that happen the long coveted goal of a conservative majority on the Supreme Court would likely evaporate.
And that is the answer to most of the questions.