Tag Archives: Supreme Court

One year after Brett Kavanaugh: ‘They just make it feel better—until they do not’

Apparently this happened last week:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday filed a motion for summary judgment in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit aimed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) controversial supplemental background check on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

This means the FBI wants the case, initiated by Buzzfeed, dismissed. We know already how the FBI limited its investigation into the Supreme Court justice nominee, an attitude that was, shall we say, careless given the case of Kavanaugh’s mysteriously vanishing debt. If you have elite credentials, this chain of events gets dismissed as sour grapes, not even when you point out how the powerful take care of their own. The swamp which Donald Trump’s voters, in an attempt to hide or justify their racism, wanted him to drain remains a mephitic bog.

Yet we’re supposed to get over it. In a stirring column, Dahlia Lithwick admits she can’t:

I wish we could have learned what Brett Kavanaugh has actually done, said, worked on, enabled, covered for, empowered. Perhaps the next book will reveal more. Perhaps the one after that. The collective public conclusion of the most recent book, by Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin, seems to be that he was a sloppy, reckless, drunk youth who has largely become better, and that it is perhaps unfair to hold men to standards that we somehow always forgive when they are still boys. We didn’t get to have that conversation either. And the people who most deserve to decide whether he is, in fact, cured of these alleged acts of youthful carelessness, violence, and predation—the women who say he has harmed them—have, other than Ford, neither been heard nor recognized. I’m not certain they subscribe to the narrative that he was a naughty boy now recovered. He spent his confirmation hearing erasing them, and his boosters and fans have made their lives since unbearable. At any rate, they are also powerless, now, to change what has occurred.

John Roberts, new swing vote, made this happen, ensured this would happen by appointing a panel to investigate the allegations which he knew would be powerless to censure Kavanaugh once Roberts had administered the oath. More privilege. More nepotism. More swap.

Lithwick’s peroration:

It is not my job to decide if Brett Kavanaugh is guilty. It’s impossible for me to do so with incomplete information, and with no process for testing competing facts. But it’s certainly not my job to exonerate him because it’s good for his career, or for mine, or for the future of an independent judiciary. Picking up an oar to help America get over its sins without allowing for truth, apology, or reconciliation has not generally been good for the pursuit of justice. Our attempts to get over CIA torture policies or the Iraq war or anything else don’t bring us closer to truth and reconciliation. They just make it feel better—until they do not.

To the Steve Rattners and “Morning” Joes and millions of American voters who think Trump is an aberration: wait until Trump is out of office or has died after a seventh helping of cottage cheese blocked his carotid artery.

Another allegation against Brett Kavanaugh

The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings almost exactly year ago belong among the more sordid affairs of my life, and it hurts to recall how our two political parties responded. Worse still was watching the real-time devolution of the sleazes who sided with Kavanaugh; their  dismissals of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony went from “Well, I believe her, but Kavanaugh didn’t do it” and “She’s lying” to “Well, so what? Guys did this all the time. Suck it up.”

Now the New York Times’ Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, in anticipation of their book about the Supreme Court justice, have dropped another revelation, this one about Deborah Ramirez, whose claims were’t even followed up on by the FBI:

But while we found Dr. Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation, Ms. Ramirez’s story could be more fully corroborated. During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been “the talk of campus.” Our reporting suggests that it was.

At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.

We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)

As of this morning, the NYT has not placed this story on its main page. The NYT, I should note, has not promoted story on its home page. The NYT, I should note, originally promoted this story on social media using this Tweet. “Ford kept her composure as she explained why her life was ruined; Kavanaugh lost his when the possibility briefly arose that he may not join the Supreme Court,” I wrote at the time. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. I sense that the Democratic Party’s leaders assume opposition to Kavanaugh last fall went too far; organizing mass resistance, they think, will alienate that crucial Trump voter who may return to the party.

John Paul Stevens: applying ‘reason tempered by experience and humility’

One Republican whom the Reagan White House didn’t hornswoggle was the late John Paul Stevens. In Linda Greenhouse’s obituary, I learned that Stevens understood with his usual alacrity how the Justice Department smothered the promise of the Fourteenth Amendment. Ed Meese he regarded with disdain. Continue reading

John Paul Stevens — RIP

For as along as I was alive, the Supreme Court was John Paul Stevens’ court. The justice with a devastating interlocutory style and one of the last to write the first draft of his own opinions well into his eighties, nominated by the most conservative American president since Calvin Coolidge, ended up well to Gerald Ford’s left by the time William Rehnquist replaced Warren Burger as chief justice; and very well to Antonin Scalia’s right after the latter replaced Rehnquist as associate justice, and Anthony Kennedy replaced Lewis Powell. Ronald Reagan nominated them all, and it’s amazing to think of Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch as scalphunters. Continue reading

What Kavanaugh did to the right

I haven’t written much about Pride for uncomplicated reasons, but one of the reasons for which I’m glad, in the era of casual experimentation, that we gays still carve a month out of the year is to anger twerps like Sohrab Ahmari, for whom drag queens reading books to children in Sacramento libraries is analogous to the Fall of Constantinople. At the end of last week the New York Post editorial page editor decided he had had enough with this sewage called contemporary culture; his answer: “[Brett] Kavanaugh snapped something in me.”

Trying to make sense of this pathology, Lawyers, Guns & Money’s Paul Campos theorized that for many on the right, especially those who posture on Twitter, what Kavanaugh allegedly did was no big deal:

OK, it was “technically” sexual assault/attempted rape, but “nothing happened.” Again, this ties in to deep anxieties about Metoo. I mean if that’s sexual assault, who hasn’t committed at least a little light sexual assault, especially if you went to high school in the 1970s or 1980s, with girls and alcohol both present and everything?

I’m obviously speculating here, but I further suspect that these attitudes are closely related to the general paranoia about the loosening of sexual mores throughout the culture, reflected in Ahmari and Co.’s manifesto linked above. All these left wingers are simultaneously trying to turn America into a non-stop polyamorous transgender cuckolding orgy, while at the same time trying to destroy upright conservative white men for engaging in a little hanky panky in the long-ago haze of their inebriated youth (“I like beer.”).

One of the president’s shrewder moves during the Kavanaugh hearings last October was using social media to remind his followers that slatterns and scolds pushed by the left could impugn the reputations of their fathers, sons, and nephews; and, at any rate, 1981 was a long time ago, and how dare Democrats get highhanded when Ted Chappakennedy has only been dead a decade? This explains Lindsey Graham’s epic meltdown at the end of the first day: the thought that this SCOTUS nominee, harvested since the Reagan era in an authoritarian lab, would have to pay for his alleged crimes. As Campos points out, conservatives can’t rejoice when they win because, like Sith lords or tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico, they gather energy from their own motion — from the projections, innuendo, and disgust that Democrats and the left inspire. Then the political press, in its cynicism and stupidity, cries uncle by claiming BOTH SIDES DO IT.

Finally, A comment on the thread had a response to what has changed and what hasn’t since the alleged incident between Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh:

Kavanaugh is about ten years older than I am, and at that time the culture was different. It should not have been but it was. People thought there was such a thing as “playing hard to get” or whatever. If the accusation was that Kavanaugh and Blasey-Ford were making out in the back seat of a Buick, and she told him to stop but he didn’t, he would be not less guilty of rape, but I would at least understand this business of “we can’t punish him for something he did as a kid” and “who doesn’t have an incident like that in their past?” and “Me Too has gone too far!”

But that’s not the accusation. There were two guys. One locked the door while the other turned up the stereo so nobody could hear her scream. You don’t exactly need Third Wave Feminism and date rape awareness training to know that if you are locking the victim in the room and trying to mask the evidence, she’s not into it. The guy’s not just a rapist by the standards of 2019, or by the standards of 1991. He was a rapist by the standards of 1980.

The spectacle Kavanaugh made of himself in his testimony was the abjectness of a man realizing other people whom he hadn’t thought about for almost forty years were not only seeking justice but implicitly destroying his pathetic belief system. Ford kept her composure as she explained why her life was ruined; Kavanaugh lost his when he joined immortality on the Supreme Court,” I wrote at the time. “Every GOP senator apologized to Kavanaugh for what Democrats had done to him; every one of them hid behind a female sex crimes prosecutor and said nothing to Ford.”

‘He had me with the idea that we are made to be free, and then he lost me’

Cue Adam Serwer: the cruelty is the point. In a story that deserves a Netflix series, the estranged daughter of Thomas B. Hofeller sifted through her dead parent’s USBs and external hard drives and found a curious document: a study concluding that a citizenship question on the 2020 census would make gerrymandered districts ever more impregnable. He also wrote the DOJ letter stressing that the question would — get this — enforce the Voting Rights Act. Continue reading