Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Kavanaugh Not The Worst SC Pick - But He Still Merits Scrutiny - Not A Rubber Stamp

Brett Kavanaugh
While Brett Kavanaugh is the least deplorable Trump SC pick, that doesn't mean he gets a free ride.

Well, today much of liberaldom can breathe a (small) sigh of relief that Donnie Dotard didn't select Amy Coney Barrett (previous post) as the Justice to replace Anthony Kennedy. As I noted, the selection of Coney Barrett would have amounted to a judicial travesty no less disastrous than the Bush Sr. choice of Clarence Thomas in 1991.  So, perhaps before the left gets hysterical over the Kavanaugh pick it needs to bear in mind Trump's choice could have been way worse.

Of course, to a patient notified he's actually contracted  dysentery,  as opposed to cholera, this is small consolation.

For those who may not know, Brett Kavanaugh worked in the Bush Jr. White House before being nominated to the DC court of appeals in 2003. He was confirmed in 2006 after Democrats mounted a long fight against his nomination on the grounds that Kavanaugh was overly partisan.  That take was not completely unjustified given Kavanaugh worked for Ken Starr, the infamous lawyer who led the "Whitewater"  investigation of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

As most of us who were alive at the time know, Starr couldn't get gnatshit out of the Whitewater investigation so had to pursue the irrelevant angle of Clinton's sex life. That also would have been a total dead end had Starr been disallowed the use of secretly made (criminally made) phone tapes of  confidential conversations with Monica Lewinsky by one Linda Tripp.   Tripp lived in Columbia, MD at the time-  where wifey and I also resided - and it was widely known Tripp (who worked at the Pentagon as a high grade gopher) violated Maryland statutes against taping phone conversations without informing the taped party.  Technically then, the Lewinsky tapes (Tripp incited Monica for more and more details at each taping)  ought to have been inadmissible. But Ken Starr disregarded the law when it suited him and used said tapes to trap Clinton in a lie ("I did not have sex with that woman!") which then became the basis for his impeachment.

Kavanaugh also helped author the Starr Report, which laid out the  spurious case for Clinton’s impeachment and removal from office, based on Lewinsky's illegally- obtained taped spiels with Tripp, i.e. about a blow job and soiled dress.. To make matters worse, Kavanaugh also did legal work for the Bush campaign during the Florida election recount.

Recall in that 2000 election, Jeb Bush had the voter lists scrubbed of tens of thousands of Afican Americans, who by a majority vote Dem. Greg Palast documented this  in his book,  'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy' detailing how 90,000 and probably more like 180,000 legal black voters were removed from voter lists in Florida, using the ruse that convicted felons can not vote in that state. Jeb Bush awarded the contract to the firm that submitted the higher bid, Choicepoint.  It then scrubbed from the voter rolls all names that were clearly black (e.g. first name Jamail, Devante or Kinesha,  for instance), that bore an arguable resemblance to a felon’s name.   End result? The SC handed the FLA electoral votes to Bush Jr.   Even Vince Bugliosi, who later blew it in a 2,500 page tome on the Kennedy assassination, got this one right. That was  embodied in his 2001 book, 'The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President'.

All of this in concert peeved Democrats no end, as it should have.

Alas, Kavanaugh is also a Roman Catholic - like Amy Coney Barrett - and he  discussed his Catholic faith last night in his acceptance blurb, proclaiming: “I am a proud member of the Catholic community in DC.”  Providing this disclosure while noting the priest for whom he served as an altar boy was in attendance for the announcement.    The good thing is he doesn't go in for speaking in tongues or getting esoteric divine messages.  The bad thing is abortion rulings could still be an issue for him. Or rather for those of us who defend a woman's right to abortion.

We already know, for example, that last fall Kavanaugh wrote a decision siding with Trump administration lawyers to block a migrant teenager in Texas from being released from custody to get an abortion.  He also criticized his colleagues for "creating a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. government detention to obtain an abortion on demand."  If Kavanaugh had been successful, he'd have pushed the teen into her second trimester.  Reinforcing this position, Kavanaugh also wrote,  “the Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion"

So the jury is still out on his abortion stance, and yes, that ought to concern pro-choice folks.

At the same time, let's bear in mind the guy is almost like kryptonite for social conservatives.   Indeed, many of those groups have warned that Kavanaugh is "insufficiently conservative", citing decisions on Obamacare and abortion where they have felt that he did not go far enough in his opinions. In particular, they cite a 2011 ruling in which he dissented from a decision that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional solely on jurisdictional grounds and not as a matter of law. The American Family Association, a prominent fundamentalist Christian group, came out on Monday night against Kavanaugh’s nomination because his “reasoning on religious liberty, Obamacare and issues concerning life have proven to be of major concern”.

That social conservo knock was more than good enough for many libs (including me) to assert Kavanaugh to be the least of four potential evils. Again, try to think of it  not as conferring kudos but as electing to contract dysentery instead of cholera, Ebola or smallpox.

Still there are other issues that invite strong scrutiny of  Kavanaugh, especially given his views on whether presidents (like Traitor Trump) can be indicted or even impeached.  This is critical in light of Robert Mueller’s continuing investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.  Indeed, Sharilynn Ifill speaking last night (on 'All In')  before the announcement, noted it is an anomaly of the first order to have a likely criminal president making a Supreme Court pick at this time (perhaps weeks before being cited as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Russia probe),

 Thus, it is eminently justified that Kavanaugh face tough questions about his views on whether sitting presidents can face criminal investigation. For example, Senate Dems can cite a 2009 law review article, in which he stated that impeachment was an adequate safeguard “if a president does something dastardly” writing:

“The President’s job is difficult enough as it is. And the country loses when the President’s focus is distracted by the burdens of civil litigation or criminal investigation and possible prosecution.”

Aww...boo hoo hoo, cry me a river, do.   But see we aren't talking about a normal, legitimate president here, but a buffoon and layabout who spends most of each day watching cable TV (FOX News) and tweeting. A guy who can't even be bothered to read his daily briefs and has spent more time now away from the White House - playing golf or hobnobbing at Mar-a-lago and Bedminster, than all previous presidents put together.   THIS is a doofus whose focus is already distracted and besides, wouldn't know how to do the damned job even if someone tried to donate a teaching video. ("The Presidency  101").

Hell, five days into his presidency he  even bawled that the job had  turned out to be too much for him to face. Too many details, too much stuff to master for an extensive government bureaucracy.  Hence, his penchant for becoming a cable TV and tweet addict. See e.g.



Being president is harder than Donald Trump thought,” begins the article, neatly capturing the blithe, criminal ignorance that characterizes both Trump himself and the many dozens of millions of morons who thought he should be the leader of the free world. Yes, being the president is a harder job than Donald Trump would expect, because Donald Trump had never previously held an actual job, because actually, spending your inheritance on a succession of failed cons is not an actual job."

The irony is that this consummate  asshole who is also a likely traitor,  selects a 53-year-old who has impeccable academic credentials and has authored over 286 opinions.  Unfortunately, one of those could grant Trump a "get out of jail free" card if somehow the culmination of the Russia probe reaches the Supreme Court.

Thus, the Dems must be as sure as much as they can be that Kavanaugh will act as an independent justice, and not seek to exonerate Trump because his job is "difficult enough as it is".   As per an op-ed in the NY Times:

"Fair questions would include inquiries not just about Judge Kavanaugh’s past writings and activities but also about how he believes various past notable judicial cases (such as Roe v. Wade) should have been decided — and even about what his current legal views are on any issue, general or specific."

The specific questions that ought to be considered by the Judiciary Committee, start with his opinion piece on relieving presidents of strong legal blowback, i.e., in terms of being questioned by Trump prior to the announcement:

"What were you asked about this article? What did you say? What assurances did you offer? What kind of things did the White House want to know?"

This is given Kavanaugh is the only person on Trump's short list who specifically wrote that  presidents should have protection from investigations. If it can be ascertained he was pumped by Trump to bolster that opinion or act on it (in Trump's case),  protecting Trump from a Mueller subpoena, the Dems need to full bore oppose it.

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