The KBJ Hearing: What My Conservative Friends Can’t See
On the website of The New York Times on April 1, veteran Supreme Court and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Linda Greenhouse makes the case for why the latest Supreme Court hearings were such a disgrace.
The Republican minority led by Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn and Josh Hawley made complete fools of themselves by focusing on Judge Jackson’s middle of the road record in child pornography cases and what the judge’s definition of a “woman” is instead of trying to assess her qualifications for the job, which are unquestionable. This is far more than I can say about current Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh.
The point is that everything, and I mean everything, on Capitol Hill is about politics and the next election. The GOP dog whistles and appeals to the QAnon crowd really need to stop. So do the parallel dog whistles of the extreme left in the Democratic Party. Surely, if there ever was a non-controversial nominee for the Court, Katanji Brown Jackson is it. Yes, she would be the first Black woman on the Court, but she is a more than qualified choice regardless of race or sex.
Instead, we get truly smarmy comments from educated men and a woman who should know better especially as Judge Jackson’s approval would not upset the balance on the Court which is strikingly right-leaning currently. If she is confirmed, there would be no male appointees of Democratic presidents left on the Court. That is politics and I am fine with that, but to trample on the good name of a possible justice when the votes are certainly there to approve her gives pause when one considers that the vote on Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Court, was 99-0, while none of Mr. Trump’s choices garnered even 60 votes.
The Supreme Court has become far too important in our national politics. In lieu of Congress addressing the issues before it with laws, the Court is basically acting as a de facto legislative body—especially on social matters like abortion, gay marriage, gun control, and what constitutes an insurrection.
If both sides of the congressional aisle really want to see some progress in the country, each ought to consider where the middle is and try to appeal to those folks rather than to their historical constituencies on the right and left.
Judge Brown’s hearing was a perfect opportunity for the GOP senators to demonstrate the bi-partisanship they complain is lacking. This was not the 1987 Robert Bork hearing where Judge Bork’s record really was anathema to most Democrats and even some Republicans. This was an easy one and should have been a respectful, cordial hearing. Instead, we got the worst vile the GOP could drum up. What’s worse, if the GOP takes the Senate in 2022, my guess is that the next Biden appointment won’t even get a hearing (like Merrick Garland and unlike Amy Coney Barrett).
Elections have consequences. Presidents ought to have the right to make their choices for a vacant Supreme Court seat without the political theater, unless the candidate is constitutionally unqualified as were at least two of Mr. Nixon’s choices back in the 1970s.
The display by the GOP senators was appalling. What’s worse is that it will only lure the Democrats into doing the same nonsense when a GOP President makes a nomination and they too are in the minority.
This is what makes DC a zoo and the Senate a disgrace. It’s what I saw when I worked there. It’s even worse now.