Brett Kavanaugh; national disaster

Charlotte Quarrie

FOR THE QC

The question that seems to be on everyone’s mind as of late is, “How did we get here?” We all know it is bad, and we all kind of know why, but we are all too scared to look into what is happening in the places we feel we have no control, such as our government. As I asked for outside opinions to help me write this piece, the overwhelming response I got was: “I don’t know enough to have a solid opinion.” Recently, I got tired of being the Patrick Star of politics (I felt like I was living under a rock) and began listening to the New York Times podcast, The Daily. Basically, I binged the news this summer so you do not have to. Now, I’m going to try to tell you what is actually going on. Be forewarned, this is my opinion, but I will also be giving you the facts of what is happening around us.

What I love most about The Daily is that, whenever they cover a story, they make sure to give the listener strong historical context for their topic, often backtracking and going into the past to understand the present. Brett Kavanaugh has an exhilarating past. His law career has been flashy and bold, making his appeal to Trump understandable from the get-go. From early on, Kavanaugh has been involved in conservative-based law theory. As a young law student, he joined the Federalist Society, a well-known organization with a heavy influence on the selection of conservative judges. They started as a small society of like-minded conservatives with a love for the law of the founding fathers within Ivy League institutions. They quickly grew in numbers and influence. During George W. Bush’s administration, the society was able to force Harriet Myers to rescind her judicial nomination in favor of someone who was a society member, Samuel Alito. Kavanaugh made conservative connections within the society during his time as a member, concerned with upholding the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the law, the Federalist Society quickly grew to be a place where connections could be formed and careers would be made. 

Kavanaugh would make his debut in our historical timeline during the investigation of President Bill Clinton, working on the legal team that would lead impeachment. During Kavanaugh’s time working under Judge Star in the office of the Independent Counsel, he credits himself for suggesting interview tactics, such as exposing the Monica Lewinsky affair in lewd detail while Clinton was on the stand. He was involved in other high profile cases before joining the White House as Staff Secretary during President George W. Bush’s administration. Through all of this, he has maintained a fine record as a conservative judge. His past rulings have shown that he strongly values the written law, refusing to go against Roe v. Wade rulings as they stand when overseeing court cases. However, he has also shown a distain for the laws themselves, making it clear that the laws can be changed if the Supreme Court’s overarching views were to ever shift. He has proven himself to be very capable with words and language, as he writes and says precisely what he means while still leaving room for interpretive flexibility from both sides of the aisle. 

What concerns me the most about Judge Kavanaugh is not his personal views on the humanities because, although I find them troubling and lacking, those are unfortunately issues for a non-corrupt government. Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination shows a trend within the White House of trying to dodge the consequences of the crimes they have committed and continue to commit. Judge Kavanaugh has made it explicitly clear that he does not believe that any legal action should be taken against a president while they are sitting in the presidency. He states that this view comes from the lessons he took away from the President Clinton administration. He believes that if the President had been able to focus more energy on overseas affairs as opposed to a lawsuit, then the unrest in the Middle East may not have grown to the point that culminated in the Sept. 11 attacks. For someone who worked so closely on the case, it is understandable to feel responsible or regretful for your actions in some way; however, we cannot take the example of one president and hold it to another in this regards. Though it may have been the wrong choice to take legal action against Clinton at the time, I do not believe it can be applied to all presidents for all time. 

President Trump has shown himself to be a threat to our national security and foreign policy. Showing his favor for Russia at the Helsinki Summit was just one example of the way he has undermined our government. If Brett Kavanaugh were truly concerned about the domestic safety of the country, the repercussions of the actions of lawsuits against current and past presidents, he should recognize that not all lawsuits are created equal. It is a risk to our country to keep a corrupt leader in power and an even greater risk to allow him to escape the repercussions of his actions during his time in power. What I see when I look at Brett Kavanaugh, besides a man who looks like he’s trying to hide a lemon in his mouth, is a man who is very good at being near powerful men. I see a man who is smart and calculating in the choices he makes and understands how important perception is. 

The reason we need to be scared is because this is Trump’s second appointment to the Supreme Court. There is no way to remove these people from power other than death or resignation. Many conspiracy theorists would love to point to the two openings during Trump’s administration as proof of a Republican coup. With the Republican blocking of an Obama-era nomination and the sudden resignation of Anthony Kennedy in such a short time, it does all feel very serendipitous. Maybe in 30 years we will find out there was a connection, and maybe this is all just really bad timing. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this is happening. 

Democrats’ only hope is to stall out the proceedings by utilizing the extensive paper trail Kavanaugh left in the White House as a way to slow down the hearings and confirmation process. This plan is complicated and convoluted and echoes the Republican blocking of the Obama nominee, in my opinion. It involves a lot of documents that are classified to the public that the committee has access to but cannot talk about directly. Added on, there are literally hundreds of documents needing to be retrieved from historical archives that all need to go through a long authentication process before being distributed. The Democrats are hoping to use the confusion to prolong the process until the midterm elections when they can revisit the idea of if Trump should even be allowed to appoint another Judge while he is under investigation. This would be assuming there is a large enough shift in those who get re-elected versus those who do not, and the new lawmakers lean democratic. The chances feel a little slim, honestly. It is a weak argument to the Republicans who simply want to expedite the process and get another conservative sitting judge.

I have to admit to you that listening to the news thirty minutes for five days a week is a little like exercising: good for you, but so hard to commit to. I get it. If this is the most information about Kavanaugh you’ve seen in one place, then I totally understand. I want to urge us to be more informed though. People are taking advantage of the fact that we as a society are hurting too much to keep up. I will leave you with this: Nazis burned books and Republicans want to regulate the internet because the thing that threatens an oppressive leadership the most is access to knowledge and information.

If you read this much and are interested in the podcast I mentioned or you want to fact check me, the episodes I utilized as my primary sources are listed below.

July 9- Trump’s Supreme Court Finalists

July 10- Trump Picks Brett Kavanaugh

July 11- Brett Kavanaugh’s Change of Heart

July 17- Trump Sides With Putin

September 1- A 30-Year Plan to Transform the Courts

September 2- A Chaotic Opening Day for Brett Kavanaugh

September 4- The Kavanaugh Documents