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High court drama unfolds in contentious judicial hearing

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Oct 3, 2018 - 10:19:01 PM

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Protesters rally against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as the Senate Judiciary Committee debates his confi rmation, Sept. 28 at the Supreme Court in Washington. Photo: AP/Wide World Photos

WASHINGTON—The full U.S. Senate is now set to debate and possibly vote on the nomination of U.S. District Judge Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the Supreme Court, and possibly bring an end to the high drama during a week of sudden starts and stops on a bumpy road toward confirmation or rejection.

Judge Kavanaugh’s first major setback came when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified publicly for the first time about her allegations that Mr. Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in the 1980s when she was 15 years old. The hearing was viewed live by millions.

“Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes,” she told the Committee Sept. 28. “He had a hard time because he was very inebriated and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit underneath my clothing.

“I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This was what terrified me the most and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”

Dr. Blasey Ford was asked by Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin: “Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?”

“One hundred percent,” she replied. But Judge Kavanaugh was equally emphatic and highly emotional in his denial. He denounced the charges with barely controlled rage and repeatedly choking up with tears in his eyes. He singled out Democrats on the committee and accused them of staging a “circus” aimed at derailing his nomination.

“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” he testified. “The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy. Since my nomination in July, there has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something—anything—to block my confirmation.”

Legal observers disagreed. “The fact that he would begin his opening statement, yelling at the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I thought was clearly inappropriate for anyone who is being interviewed for a job, let alone the job on this country’s highest court,” Professor Gloria Browne Marshall, who teaches Constitutional Law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City said in an interview.

As the Judiciary Committee proceeded, voting 11-10, along strict party lines to send the nomination to the Senate floor for final debate and likely approval, Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski announced they would vote no on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, unless the committee ordered a new FBI investigation into the sexual abuse allegations of Dr. Blasey Ford, and at least one other woman. Those charges were raised after the original committee hearings had been completed.

The new charges were explosive in light of the #MeToo movement, enraging many women and their supporters, but the charges may not be enough to derail his confirmation. Support for the nomination has divided the voting population along familiar partisan lines: 48 percent of evangelical Christians—so-called values voters—told a Marist Poll in late September that they would support Judge Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court, even if the sexual assault charges are true, according to published reports.

“Brett Kavanaugh demonstrated in his appearance before the Judiciary Committee he is unfit to be a judge on any court,” Attorney Howard Moore Jr., who successfully defended Professor Angela Davis against murder and conspiracy charges in 1972, said in a social media statement verified by The Final Call. “He does not have the temperament a judge needs. He is opinionated, bombastic, head strong, and a very poor listener.

“Over the 57 years, I practiced law across the country at every level from Justice of the Peace courts in the rural South to the Supreme Court of the United States, I encountered some extremely ignorant, conservative, and biased judges, but never one who displayed the ill-temperament Brett Kavanaugh did Thursday afternoon before the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Attorney Moore continued.

The dramatic hearing featuring Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, the decision to have the FBI investigate the charges of sexual misbehavior is reminiscent of a similar, dramatic face-off, 27 years ago when Justice Clarence Thomas was charged with inappropriate sexual behavior by Anita Hill, a former staff assistant.

The Senate now has a chance to correct the mistake with the Kavanaugh nomination, “before it happens,” according to Professor Browne Marshall, something that did not happen in the Hill-Thomas matter.

“So we’ll have another person not just having taints of sexual abuse allegations following him onto the nation’s highest court, and therefore harming the reputation of the court,” Prof. Browne Marshall continued, “but also causing Justice Kavanaugh to be pushed so far to the right, with a sense of revenge against those people who have trashed his character that we have another staunch conservative on the court.

“He may be, basically, quote-unquote, bought and paid for, with unquestioned loyalty to the conservatives who put him on the court anyway, which is what we have basically with Clarence Thomas, unquestioned loyalty to the conservatives who put him on the court and therefore someone who is not going to give us unbiased adjudication of the cases that come before the Supreme Court.” That, she said, is the danger.

“And that’s a major concern, that we will have 20 to 30 years of unquestioned loyalty to some conservatism, a narrow focus when it comes to social issues of concern to women, people of color, and of course anything that’s considered liberal. And an inability to actually fairly adjudicate these cases that he thought that his reputation was tainted by, so-called liberals and this agenda of the Clinton administration, and therefore (he will) seek revenge for the next 20-30 years against the people who hold a liberal position.”

The conservative forces which are seeking permanent domination over the courts are motivated by their expectations of the outcomes these appointments will achieve. These nominees, such as Judge Kavanaugh, “are politically driven people who are being chosen by politically driven people, who are not looking at character faults, they’re just looking at what’s to be gained politically,” said Prof. Browne Marshall.