Should Kavanaugh Become a Member of the SCOTUS?
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Even if one dismisses Kavanaugh’s positions on numerous legal issues, there is good reason for Judge Brett Kavanaugh not to be seated on the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford there are overwhelming questions which must be and, hopefully, will be answered by the F.B.I. investigation. If the examination corroborates in any way Ford’s recollections of Kavanaugh’s conduct as a teenager, he ought to be rejected by the Senate because he appears to have perjured himself. In fact, he should be asked to step down from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit or he should be impeached.
If there are insufficient Senators prepared to reject his nomination despite such a conclusion, then Senator Jeff Flake’s observations about conditions in this country are even worse than he suggested. Such an appointment may eventually blow over, but the public’s sense of how elected officials view sexual misconduct will be seared into the psyche of American woman and men forever.
If this were not enough reason to reject Kavanaugh’s elevation to the High Court, his demeanor and his conduct before the Judiciary Committee was a display of a person who does not possess the judicial temperament or the emotional control to make binding decisions in a court of law. His rage and temper were out of control.
Kavanaugh’s insulting exchange with Senator Amy Klobuchar–challenging her about her drinking habits as she was inquiring about his own habits–was shocking. While he also was patently rude to Senator Dick Durbin, he left Klobuchar totally speechless. His subsequent apology to Klobuchar does eliminate the fact that he demonstrated conduct not acceptable for a member of the Supreme Court.
In conjunction with Kavanaugh’s intemperate behavior the reports by the American Bar Association as early as 2006 suggested their recognition of this deficiency. When Kavanaugh was being considered for the Court of Appeals, the ABA committee, although evaluating him as “qualified”, already sensed that his personality might not be best for someone seeking appointment to the second highest court in the land.
There is one further issue which has come home to haunt the Judiciary Committee and the Senate already more than once during the Kavanaugh nominating process. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley understood that once the process began they needed it to move quickly. They wanted no delays, postponements, or weekend news cycles to interfere with the expeditious handling of the nomination. What has happened instead, to their great dismay, has been precisely the opposite. Even the decision to provide a week for the F.B.I. investigation ends the process next Friday. The Senate already has been informed that a final vote is scheduled for next Saturday. With the information from the F.B.I. only arriving on Friday, at a minimum McConnell again may well receive serious pressure even from Republicans to wait until Monday or Tuesday before voting.
Finally, as the deliberations continue, vulnerable GOP Senators are getting more and more anxious about the impact of the Kavanaugh circus on the mid-term elections. The Kavanaugh vote could have a much longer effect on the nation than will these elections. For those Senators seeking re-election they like their power and do not want to lose their seats. They may rightly sense that their own re-election may well hang on how the voters perceive their position on the Kavanaugh vote.