Sunday, September 30, 2018

Kavanaugh versus Ford: Who Really Lost?

The nation was transfixed this past Thursday with the sequential testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.  It is rare that a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding generates this stratospheric level of intensity and interest.  In my recollection, the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the Anita Hill hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee both reached this level.

I watched a good deal of the hearings and read about what I was unable to watch.

Personally, I don’t think that minds were changed.   Nearly every U.S. senator’s mind was firmly decided at the moment that the judge was nominated months ago.  Many offered up their strident support or opposition within 24 hours of the announcement of the nomination, if not sooner.   I will let readers decide if such a response is the diligent and fair reaction that a nominee and the country deserve.  To me, it seems that this massive pre-judgement was offered up without necessary fact finding or standard due diligence.  While there may be no presumed innocent standard in a judicial confirmation process, as this is not a trial, I would think that fairness and decency would instruct us to maintain some modicum of open mindedness.

Importantly, there remains a handful of senators from both parties that are still in play.  And with the GOP majority so shallow, one or two votes could be decisive.  

Sadly, this process has only served to reinforce the existing and widening fissure, or canyon, that is dividing this nation.  This has diminished the confirmation process, our legislators, the Supreme Court and the nation.   This is the overriding stark truth.   Do not let distractions about the loss of the filibuster, the shameless treatment of Merrick Garland, the relevance of a Supreme Court nominee’s high school and college drinking habits, the need for a formal FBI investigation, Diane Feinstein’s concealing Ford’s private letter from the Judiciary Committee, your residual anger over the Anita Hill hearing, your view on Roe vs Wade or the justifiable rise of the #MeToo movement, blind you to the horrible spectacle that is still ongoing.

I think that this has been a national embarrassment.   Who’s at fault?  It reminds me of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express where everyone was guilty.

I am offering no opinion if Judge Kavanaugh should be confirmed or charged with a sexual crime.  I do not know what happened and neither do you.  The outcome of this debacle will make half the nation feel triumphant while the other half will seethe.  Does that sound unifying and healing?

Confirmation of Supreme Court nominees used to be an august demonstration of the majesty of our democracy.  Nominees were treated with respect by the senate and by the nation.  By and large, the process transcended politics.  No more.  Now, the partisan poison that has infected the executive and legislative branches has spread to the remaining branch.  

Whoever wins next in next week's vote, one thing is for certain.  We all have lost.  

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