It is disgraceful, embarrassing, and dangerous, and only two or three steps away from Charles Sumner being physically attacked by Preston Brooks on the Senate floor.
It emerged during the proceedings that Senate Democrats planned to disrupt the orderly process of the hearings as a strategy. Nice. I guess that’s their replacement for the filibuster. I think I prefer the device used by Lilly Tomlin’s character in the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie”: when she can’t rebut an argument, she starts singing “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” as loud as she can, so nobody else can talk.
“The hearing began with protesters breaking in, and continued with serial efforts by Democratic Senators to postpone the hearing. To the credit of committed chair Chuck Grassley, he bulled on through. As he did so, the Democratic side degenerated into a contest regarding which putative candidate for the Democratic 2020 nomination could pander to the base more. Here is how the day began:
GRASSLEY: “Good morning. I welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of —“
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.”
GRASSLEY: “— Brett Kavanaugh –”
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.”
GRASSLEY: “— to serve as associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized for a question before we proceed. Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. The committee received just last night less than 15 hours ago —“
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman, regular order.”
HARRIS: “— 42.000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read or analyze.”
GRASSLEY: “You are out of order. I will proceed.”
HARRIS: “We cannot possibly move forward, Mr. Chairman. We have not been given the opportunity to have a meaningful hearing with Congress nominee–“[cross-talk]
GRASSLEY: “I extend a very warm welcome to Judge Kavanaugh, to his wife Ashley, their two daughters –[cross-talk]
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, I agree with my colleague, senator Harris. Mr. Chairman, we received 42.000 documents tat we haven’t been able to review —”
GRASSLEY: “— And everyone else joining us today.”
UNKNOWN: ” and we believe this hearing should be postponed —”
GRASSLEY: “I know this is an exciting day for all of you here and your you’re rightly proud —”
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.”
GRASSLEY: “— From Judge Kavanaugh —”
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, we have been denied real access to the documents we need to advise —” (Audience cheering)
BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, we have been denied the real access to the documents we need —[cross-talk] which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms and, Mr. Chairman, I therefore move to adjourn this hearing.”
AUDIENCE: “This is a mockery. This is a travesty of justice. Cancel Brett Kavanaugh, adjourn the hearing. [ indecipherable].”
BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, I ask for a roll call vote on my motion to adjourn.”
AUDIENCE MEMBER: “‘[indecipherable]'”
BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. I ask for a roll call vote.”
GRASSLEY: “We are not in executive session. We will continue as planned.”
A recurring theme was the disingenuous complaint that Democrats, who have received over 400,ooo pages of materials relating to Trump’s nomination to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat on the Court, as well as all of his judicial opinions which are what really matter, did not have time to read the most recently released batch of about 40, 000 pages. Everyone knows that what is in those documents doesn’t matter one bit, because the entire group of Democratic Senators have already made it clear that they are going to vote against Kavanaugh as a bloc. They are going to do it to express their outrage over Merrick Garland; they are going to do it to pander to the resistance narrative that Trump is an “illegitimate” President, they are going to do it because the party increasingly seeks to demonize conservatives, they are going to do it because they are afraid of their base. Oh, there are lots of reasons. All of the Democratic Senators, maybe most, don’t seriously believe their party’s own scare-mongering that Kavanaugh will lead the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade, but there is the rapidly pro-abortion—not just pro-abortion rights but pro-abortion—feminist segment of the base to pander to as well.
Essentially, we are watching an entire political party embrace mob-style interference as an alternative to process, because they don’t like what the likely results of the established process will be. Of course this is dangerous to the nation and the Constitution. It is also a tantrum, just like the party’s reaction to President Trump’s election itself.
It was predictable that if the funeral of a Senator was exploited as an opportunity to attack the President, the hearings on his Supreme Court nominee would certainly be. (I am not finished looking, but so far I can find no comparable direct attacks on Barack Obama during the hearings on his two nominees.) Here, for example, is the reliable demagogue Dick Durbin (D-Ill), doing his best Keith Olbermann imitation:
“You are the nominee of President Donald John Trump. This is a president who’s shown us consistently he’s contemptuous of the rule of law. He’s said and done things as president which we’ve never seen before in history. He dismissed the head of the FBI when he wouldn’t bend to his will. He harasses his attorney general on almost a daily basis in the exercise of his office, and I didn’t vote for Jeff Sessions, but I have to tell you there should be some respect at least for the office he serves in. And it’s that president who’s decided you are his man. You’re the person he wants on the Supreme Court. You are his personal choice. So are people nervous about this? Are they concerned about it? Of course they are.”
As in the hypocritical remarks by the McCain mourners. Durbin is hilariously self-indicting. Durbin’s party has been contemptuous of the rule of law in areas where the President has been committed to enforce it, as with illegal immigration. Durbin and his party have undertaken direct assaults on the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments. The way Democrats are conducting themselves in this very hearing has never been seen before in history.
And how in the world can a Democratic Senator demand that there should be respect for the Office of the Attorney General, when withholding any respect for the office of the President has been his own party’s policy for nearly two years? The principles Durbin is extolling are obviously those neither he nor his party believes in, unless they can be used to attack the President.
As has been true since Trump’s inauguration, it is the Democrats who are willing to destroy our democratic institutions in order to save them, to adapt an infamous Vietnam era line. This is one more of many examples, and they are behaving this way not to block some extreme, sinister radical, but a conservative jurist with unassailable credentials who would have passed through the confirmation process unanimously or close to it in any other administration.