Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. Most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.
Occasionally I break from the normal formatting and do a “sense check.” Auditing one’s own work is problematic but I try to be objective. Entries #300 and #301 are the most recent standard “sense checks.”
This “sense-check” entry was unplanned. What precipitated this entry was the confirmation process to have Brett Kavanaugh become a SCOTUS justice.
As a result actions during the confirmation process, I increased the chances of a 5th US revolution to “highly likely.” However, my reasons for changing to “highly likely” may be different from what many others have stated or written about the Kavanaugh nomination/confirmation process.
Some background – the Constitution states the president shall nominate candidates to be SCOTUS justices. The Constitution requires Senate approval of the nominee. The Constitution does not provide many guidelines. For example, the Constitution does not prohibit a president from nominating someone whose views or interpretation of laws are considered to be extremely right or left, and therefore likely outside the views of the populace. Nor does the Constitution require the nominee be a current member of the judiciary. The nominee could be a dishwasher at a restaurant.
Further, there is no requirement that the president nominate, or the Senate confirm, candidates to ensure a balance of opinion on SCOTUS. While the situation unlikely, say if all liberal-leaning justices left the Court during the term of one president, the president could nominate and the Senate could approve, justices so the entire Court supported rulings considered far right.
With that background, my assessment of the likelihood of a 5th revolution associated with the Kavanaugh confirmation has little to do with Kavanaugh’s political views or interpretation of the law. What I believe is the wedge that will almost ensure a Revenge Revolution is the attitude and actions of key members of the Senate – most notably Senators McConnell, Graham and Collins. Most of the balance of this entry is directed at the behavior of Senator McConnell, whose actions I believe have deepened the chasm between parties to such an extent that it might be another 50 years or more before the Senate functions as it should. The chasm will exist even if the US experiences a Revenge Revolution.
(And readers, if you think I’m a bitter hard-core liberal, you are sadly mistaken. For years I was a “thinking” Republican, in the vein of Lincoln, Dirksen and Javits. But the Republican Party has shifted far right and key members of the Party seem to have lost their ability to think and reason. There is no room for me in today’s Republican Party. In today’s Republican Party, Lincoln would be considered a screaming liberal, if for no reason other than he liberated “those people.”)
Over the decades, what has allowed SCOTUS rulings to be recognized as law of the land by the populace? Obviously not everyone has supported every decision but why have even controversial decisions become the law of the land? Trust by the people in the objectivity of the justices. In parallel, the Court’s decisions likely have been moderated to a degree by public opinion. Justices have recognized the need to create trust and acknowledge public opinion so the vast majority of SCOTUS rulings have not been too far left or right.
What’s changed with the Kavanaugh nomination? McConnell blindly led the charge to confirm a candidate that far less than half the American public supported. What’s even more puzzling, McConnell stated achieving the confirmation for Kavanaugh was “…his greatest achievement (again).”
Let’s take a closer look at McConnell’s greatest achievement. The initial phase of this latest “great achievement” was McConnell denying president Obama the right to have the Senate consider a nominee to fill an open seat on SCOTUS. According to McConnell the vacancy should be filled “after the people vote.” Forget the Constitution, forget precedent, McConnell alone should decide when a vacancy on SCOTUS should be filled.
Waiting for the people to vote applies only to nominees of Democratic presidents and not Republican presidents. Following Justice Kennedy’s retirement after the 2017-2018 term, McConnell flip-flopped. The hell with the rationale used to deny Obama his rightful pick by never having a hearing re Merrick Garland – and instead let’s push for a shorted confirmation process for Brett Kavanaugh. This time the Senate should confirm the nominee before the elections. Now McConnell thinks the people shouldn’t speak. Just to make sure any thinking Senator couldn’t make an informed decision about Kavanaugh, McConnell (through Senator Grassley) withheld a vast number of documents written by Kavanaugh during the Bush Administration.
To further build public trust…or maybe that’s distrust…in Kavanaugh, McConnell (this time thru Grassley and Trump), stonewalled efforts to dig deeper into Kavanaugh’s past. Charges ranged from sexual assault to excessive gambling. Rather than let the FBI explore a series of allegations fully, the Judiciary Committee allowed only one key witness to testify – yes, only one – Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Kavanaugh followed Dr. Ford and managed to create even more concern about his truthfulness and demeanor as publicly insulted Senators seeking answers to some basic questions and even lied about what he should have dismissed as youthful indiscretions.
Just to make sure even more trust in Kavanaugh was eroded, McConnell, again through Grassley and Trump, restricted a supplemental FBI background check. The FBI investigation was limited to basically asking if Kavanaugh regularly kicked his dog in public. There were no follow-up interviews with either Ford or Kavanaugh. Equally baffling, 40 or more witnesses who could have provided more insight into Kavanaugh’s past were never interviewed. Let’s see Mitch, the FBI was not allowed to interview Dr. Ford, Kavanaugh…or anyone who possibly had relevant information. Great way to build trust in the FBI report. And, one more thing – remember Mitch the Judiciary Committee hearing was not a trial. It was a job interview. People with demonstrated nasty dispositions are usually not hired for positions of public trust.
While those on the political right might view with great satisfaction McConnell’s tactics of attempting to hide the truth about Kavanaugh, thereby giving the finger to the left, how would the right react if a nominee from a Democratic president had the same questionable background and exhibited the same rude behavior as Kavanaugh? I can hear the cries now, “Lock him up! Lock him up!”
Among people who actually think about issues and people’s behavior…yes, there are such people…hypocrisy and lack of trust are major negatives. Among people who think, the end result does not justify unethical means to achieve.
I’ve said in several entries that many Republicans appear to be brainwashed. I continue to be dumbfounded at how seemingly intelligent people make incredibly stupid decisions. Under the Trump presidency the brainwashing seems to have been especially effective on Republicans in Congress.
Senator Susan Collins is among the brainwashed or brain-dead. Collins gave a 45-minute talk justifying support of Kavanaugh. Her remarks included some truly nonsensical statements. For example, she claimed that as a sitting judge, Kavanaugh has consistently supported legal precedent…unless he considered the precedent wrong. Huh, Susan? In real speak that means precedent plays no part in Kavanaugh’s decisions. Why would anyone ever make such an inane claim? Collins was also interviewed on “60 Minutes” the day after the confirmation. Based on her comments during “60 Minutes,” no one would ever accuse her of being a deep thinker. Enough about Collins.
Then we have Senator Lindsey Graham. Graham’s behavior of late could be compared to that of Stormy Daniels in one of her movies – constantly taking on new positions and new partners, including cuddling up to president Trump. At least Stormy Daniels has been straightforward with the public about her beliefs. No so for Graham. Say Lindsey, do you not remember any lessons from John McCain?
McConnell’s claim that his greatest accomplishment was getting an unqualified, unpopular nominee who lied to the Senate, approved for SCOTUS sets the stage. Mitch baby, if you think Kavanaugh is your greatest accomplishment, then your value system is highly skewed in the wrong direction. Worse still, you are a perfect complement to Trump. Neither of you has any principles.
Among people who have principles, there is an adage that most learned early in life. Mitch you must have missed the class…again and again and again. The adage is, “What goes around, comes around.” The follow-on part of that adage is when it comes back, the intensity is usually much greater. My suggestion Mitch? Be on the lookout because your life is about to begin heading down a very steep hill.
Where does all this lead? The Revenge Revolution seems “highly likely.” What’s worse, with the Revenge Revolution there may be far more bloodshed than any “revolution” since the Civil War. Just as a reminder, entry #1 in this blog talks about a roughly 50-year cycle between US revolutions. Some of those revolutions have been military and some social. The last great social upheaval in the US began with the events of 1968. If I do my math, 2018 is just about 50 years later.
Is there any hope? Yes, there’s some. While we probably can’t avoid the Revenge Revolution, the intensity could be moderated by one person – Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts is a smart guy. Roberts knows his legacy will be determined by how credible the public views decisions of SCOTUS. Roberts also knows he’s got two justices who are considered illegitimate by many people – Thomas and Kavanaugh.
What can Roberts do? Move left on a number of high-profile cases, making sure the decisions are more balanced. Roberts is likely to twist some arms and seek some 6-3 or 7-2 decisions. People understand not every decision will be what they want. But thoughtful decisions that consider the concerns of groups left and right will help maintain credibility of SCOTUS.
Thanks for your time reading this entry. As always, comments welcome.