Supreme Court appointments are perhaps the most important confirmations of our lifetime because they are lifetime appointments. They directly affect our lives and American jurisprudence for decades. It is the selection of who determines the law of the land.
As a constitutional conservative, I want jurists who are eminently qualified but are also mindful of the Constitution — originalists and textualists like Antonin Scalia and constitutionalists like Clarence Thomas. However, the mandate for the U.S. Senate is not to approve or disapprove of the philosophical leanings of the candidate but rather to determine whether that person is qualified to be on the Supreme Court. Advise and consent, not pick and choose. The selection of the nominee is the constitutional prerogative of the president.
Elections have consequences.
Somewhere along the way, the process changed. The Bork hearings in ’87 paved the way for the nasty, disgraceful and partisan tone of future confirmation hearings. When senators reopened the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing after Anita Hill’s FBI testimony was leaked, it opened a new era of how far Senate Democrats would descend from the role of advise and consent to smear and destroy.
Anita Hill was not believable. There was little evidence to support her claim. There were many more witnesses who testified in support of Thomas’ character. Thomas characterized it as a “high-tech lynching” because he was a black conservative. He was correct.
The Brett Kavanaugh scandal is comparable to the nature of that ambush.
Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation was first presented to Sen. Dianne Feinstein in July, and it was conveniently “leaked” at the last moment. It is an uncorroborated accusation from 36 years ago. There are contradictions in Ford’s statements. She doesn’t know when or where the alleged incident happened or how many people were involved. The absurd demand of her attorney for the accused to speak first and for her client not to be interrogated by lawyers was a contradiction of due process.
A multitude of people — including Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, men and women — attest to Kavanaugh’s impeccable character. He has no proven history of the kind of aberrant behavior alleged by Ford. The four individuals placed at the scene by Ford all deny her version of events. All deny even being there. One claimed to be her lifelong friend.
Subsequent accusations proved to be implausible or dubious.
Certainly, serious charges should be examined. But how much further should they impact the process if they are baseless? It is not the job of the accused to disprove an unverified accusation. Judge Kavanaugh has been investigated six times by the FBI.
A fundamental principle of Western jurisprudence and justice presumes innocence until one is proven to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is hard to believe that those who choose our nation’s justices do not seem to understand this basic concept. The uncorroborated charges against Kavanaugh and the reactions from Ford’s supporters reveal much more about them and the senators aligned with her than they do about the judge.
The sad truth is, there are people willing to destroy a person’s life and career based on little evidence, for political reasons, as part of a political process to delay a nomination.
They should be ashamed of themselves.
Ultimately, specious charges such as these undermine real and serious cases of harassment and sexual assault.
It is a sad state of affairs and a far cry from when Justice Scalia was confirmed in 1986 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed in 1993. As divergent in judicial philosophy as they could be, they both had something in common: Scalia was confirmed 98-0, and Ginsburg was confirmed 96-3.
It was a better time. The United States Senate understood its constitutional role.
What has been revealed is that today, there are senators who barely understand our constitutional rights or due process. Due process is so important to the cause of justice that it was reiterated verbatim in the 14th Amendment. Perhaps those championing this latest smear campaign against Judge Kavanaugh should go back and read the Fifth, Sixth and 14th amendments.
We have come to another junction in our history where the nation has to make a choice, and this choice will determine whether America will remain the beacon of liberty. There are those who claim this is just a job interview. Whether in a court or in an office, is it unreasonable to ask that fairness, logic and justice be a fundamental part of the process? America is an extraordinary country because we have always represented justice. May justice prevail.
Michael Ramirez is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning, nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist with Creators Syndicate.
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