Kavanaugh

reposting a comment on Kavanaugh made by a friend:

I want to say something about political “experience” and “credentials” and “qualifications” in light of Republicans’ repeated refrains about Kavanaugh’s “experience.”

Yes, he’s been an Circuit Court and Supreme Court law clerk; an associate counsel in a major national independent counsel investigation; an associate White House counsel; a White House Staff Secretary; a DC Cir. Judge. He argued before the Supreme Court! Sounds very impressive!

But but but. He clerked for Kozinski (who recently resigned in shame over sexual harassment), who is a feeder to his old boss Kennedy. He was an associate counsel to Ken Starr, where he was the principal author of the infamous Starr Report that gleefully recounted Clinton’s sexual acts and called for his impeachment. His Supreme Court argument was asking courts to disregard attorney-client privilege in relation to his investigation of Vince Foster’s death (he lost), which he spent millions trying to prove was murder. His White House positions were in the GWB admin as a political appointee, where he advanced right-wing policies and judges. His Circuit judgeship involved such decisions as preventing a 17-year-old pregnant girl from getting an abortion even after she satisfied the state law of Texas – TEXAS! – on parental notification requirements.

He is a career-long right-wing partisan warrior. Every step of his career has been to the next right-wing warrior position. He is smart, yes. Excellent schools. But let’s not kid ourselves that his vaunted “expertise” and “credentials” arose naturally because he is such a brilliant patriotic American. Virtually all of them came because he was being groomed and promoted by a right-wing political cabal to get him to the exact position he is in today – where he can be a decisive fifth vote on the court to limit or eliminate abortion, end affirmative action, end Obamacare, limit administrative bodies’ abilities to regulate the environment and consumer protection, hamper gay marriage and gay rights, end limits on campaign finance spending and donation, restrict minority voting rights, expand executive power (for Republican presidents), and other long-standing right-wing positions. He is there because he’s been groomed for it, for 25 years now. It’s like a super-affirmative-action for right-wing partisan warriors.

Did he ever get hired by a Democrat? Did he ever work for a progressive? Impress a liberal? Outside the one Democratic lawyer who introduced him – and is a regular Supreme Court practitioner, where she will need his votes for her clients – how many prominent liberals have said “yeah, I disagree with his philosophy, but he’s going to be a good and fair judge”?

Kavanaugh is the fruit of a long-term plan to develop “excellent resumes” so that today, right now, Republicans can say “how can you possibly deny that he is incredibly experienced?” He sure is! He was made that way, for this purpose.

He will probably be confirmed, because the Republicans have the votes. But make no mistake: his ascent to the Court is not because he’s “incredibly well-qualified.” It’s because right-wing partisans groomed a right-wing partisan, putting him in ever-higher positions of power, and in a further exercise of raw power, they will put him in the highest position of power they can.

He won’t be the last. Years from now, Republicans up for high positions will be vaunted for their political experience and credentials because they clerked for Kavanaugh / Gorsuch / Alito, worked in the Trump administration (where, naturally, they’ll say they worked as a moderating force to advance conservative goals, while heroically thwarting Trump’s insanity), and all sorts of other similar credentials.

Do Democrats do it too? Sure! I think Republicans have done this more (or, maybe, are just better at it). But the lesson here is bipartisan. Don’t look at people’s *positions*. Look at what they did while they were there. Don’t accept “credentials” without looking under the hood. Don’t hear “he’s so experienced” and think “well then he must be good.” What has he done? What will he do in the next position?

If you’re a deep conservative, you should be thrilled at Kavanuagh’s ascent. If you’re anyone else, his “credentials” are merely the platform on which he will act with great hostility to your interests, for decades, all while right-wingers keep pronouncing, “his decisions MUST be smart and correct; after all, they’re coming from someone who is so well-qualified!”

from Facebook September 08, 2018 at 06:56AM

Former U.S. Senator Al Franken

When Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators will have an opportunity to examine his record, his judicial philosophy, and his qualifications for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
 
I wish I could be there.  Because I have some questions I’d love to see him answer.
 
1. Judge Kavanaugh, welcome. I’d like to start with a series of yes or no questions.  The first one is a gimme.  Do you think it’s proper for judges to make determinations based on their ideological preconceptions or their personal biases?
 
He’ll say no, of course.
 
2. Good.  Would you agree that judges should make determinations based on their understanding of the facts?
 
3. And would you agree that it’s important for a judge to obtain a full and fair understanding of the facts before making a determination?
 
This is all pretty standard stuff.  Then, however, I’d turn to an issue that’s received a bit of attention—but not nearly enough.
 
4. When you were introduced by President Trump, you spoke to the American people for the very first time as a nominee for the Supreme Court. That is a very important moment in this process, wouldn’t you agree?
 
5. And one of the very first things that came out of your mouth as a nominee for the Supreme Court was the following assertion: “No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.”  Did I quote you correctly?
 
This claim, of course, was not just false, but ridiculous.  The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake (a Minnesota native) called it “a thoroughly inauspicious way to begin your application to the nation’s highest court, where you will be deciding the merits of the country’s most important legal and factual claims.”  
 
It would be only fair to give Kavanaugh a chance to retract that weirdly specific bit of bullshit.
 
6. Do you stand by those words today?  Yes or no?
 
If he says that he doesn’t, I’d skip down to Question 22.  But, if he won’t take it back, I’d want to pin him down.
 
7. I just want to be clear.  You are under oath today, correct?
 
8. So, today, you are telling the American people—under oath—that it is your determination that “[n]o president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.”
 
9. And that determination—it wouldn’t be based on your ideological preconceptions, would it?
 
10. And it’s not based on any personal bias, is it?
 
11. No, of course not.  That would be improper.  Instead, it is based on your understanding of the facts, right?
 
12. Was it a “full and fair” understanding of the facts?
 
Again, if he decided here to fold his hand and admit that he was full of it, I’d skip down to Question 22.  But if not, I’d continue with…
 
13. Great.  Judge Kavanaugh, are you aware that there have been 162 nominations to the Supreme Court over the past 229 years?
 
14. And do you have a full and fair understanding of the circumstances surrounding each nomination?
 
Of course he doesn’t.
 
15. Of course you don’t.  So, in actuality, your statement at that press conference did not reflect a full and fair understanding of the facts—isn’t that right?
 
16. This was one of the very first public statements you made to the American people as a nominee for the Supreme Court.  A factual assertion you have repeated here under oath.  And it did not meet your standard for how a judge should make determinations about issues of national importance.
 
17. Let me ask you about some widely-reported facts.  Are you aware of the widely-reported fact that President Trump selected you from a list of 25 jurists provided by the conservative Federalist Society?
 
18. Are you aware of any other case in which a President has selected a nominee from a list provided to him by a partisan advocacy group?
 
19. Are you aware of the widely-reported fact that President Trump spent just two weeks mulling over his selection—whereas, for example, President Obama spent roughly a month before making each of his two Supreme Court nominations?
 
20. Let me ask you this.  Are you aware of any facts that support your assertion that—and I’ll quote it again—“No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination”?
 
21. And yet, you still believe that your assertion was based on a full and fair understanding of the facts?
 
Then I’d try to sum it up.
 
22. Judge Kavanaugh, do you believe that intellectual honesty and a scrupulous adherence to the facts are important characteristics in a Supreme Court Justice?
 
23: And would you say that you displayed those characteristics to your own satisfaction when you made in your very first public remarks (and reiterated here today under oath) your assertion that, “No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination”?
 
By the way: Once I had him pinned down on his ridiculous lie, I’d ask where it came from.
 
24: Let me ask you about something else.  Did President Trump, or anyone in his administration, have any input on your remarks at that press conference?
 
25: Did President Trump, or anyone in his administration, instruct, ask, or suggest that you make that assertion?
 
I know this might seem like a long chase.  Senators have a lot of ground they want to cover in these hearings: health care, choice, net neutrality, and a long list of incredibly important issues on which Kavanaugh has been, and would continue to be, terrible.  After all, he was chosen through a shoddy, disgraceful process overseen by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.
 
And, of course, Kavanaugh is a smart guy.  He and his team no doubt know that his easily provable lie is a potential problem, and I’m sure they’re workshopping answers at this very moment.
 
But pinning him down on this is important, for a couple of reasons.
 
First of all, it was exactly the kind of lie that has been plaguing our discourse for a generation, the kind that has become prevalent under the Trump administration.  It’s just a totally made-up assertion that is exactly the opposite of the truth, flowing out of the mouth of a committed partisan who doesn’t care that it’s false.  And if you’re sick of people doing that and getting away with it, at some point someone is going to have to start using a prominent stage to bust these lies.  If they go unchallenged, then why would any of these guys stop lying, ever?
 
More to the point: This episode is a perfect illustration of what the conservative movement has been doing to the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process specifically, and the judicial system generally, for a generation now.
 
In theory, judges are supposed to be above partisan politics.  They don’t make law, they interpret it.  They don’t create the strike zone, they just call balls and strikes.  You know the routine.
 
The truth is, for the last generation, conservatives have politicized the Court, and the courts.  Kavanaugh is the very model of a young, arch-conservative judge who has been groomed for moments like this one precisely because conservative activists know that he will issue expansive, activist rulings to further their agenda.  He has spent his whole career carefully cultivating a reputation as a serious and thoughtful legal scholar—but he wouldn’t have been on that list if he weren’t committed to the right-wing cause.
 
That’s why it’s critical to recognize that the very first thing he did as a Supreme Court nominee was to parrot a false, partisan talking point.  Of course that’s what he did. Advancing the goals of the Republican Party and the conservative movement is what he’s there to do.
 
When the Kavanaugh nomination was announced, I saw a lot of statements from Senators saying they looked forward to carefully evaluating his credentials and asking him questions about his judicial philosophy.  But anyone who ignores the obvious fact that this nomination, and the judicial nomination process in general, has become a partisan exercise for Republicans is just playing along with the farce.  
 
Instead, we ought to be having a real conversation about what
conservatives have done to the principle of judicial independence—and
what progressives can do to correct it.  I can think of no better
example of the problem than Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and the
bizarre lie he uttered moments after it was made official.  And I can
think of no better opportunity to start turning the tide than
Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing—even if it means going down a rabbit
hole for a few uncomfortable minutes.
Former U.S. Senator Al Franken