The Supreme Court nominee from Hell

Sexual assault allegations, lies about easily-checked activities, smirks about questionable past behavior, raucous, entitled demeanor. Where have we seen this before?

Nestled among the riveting sexual assault allegations made by Dr. Christine Ford against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and discussions over high school yearbook entries was an exchange that could further damage the judge’s reputation as a callous, beer-loving, unhinged, far-right partisan who may have assaulted at least one girl back in high school.

Or enhance his standing among Trump-loving Republicans.

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., queried Kavanaugh during the September 27 hearing on an entry in his yearbook in which he wrote, “I Survived the FFFFFFFourth of July.” Many believe the multiple capital F’s refer to an acronym for using teen-aged girls for brief sexual gratification, and not, you know, treating them as human beings.

But rather than admitting that the multiple F’s stood for something like “Find ’em, French ’em, Finger ’em, F — — ’em, Forget ‘em,” — or just saying that it was something juvenile that he wrote as a teen — Kavanaugh deadpanned that it was his way of mocking a friend’s speech.

“One of our friends, Squi, when he said the F word starting at a young age, had kind of a wind-up to the F word. Kind of a ‘ffff’,” Kavanaugh said, as some in the hearing laughed. “And then the word would come out. And when we were 15, we thought that was funny. And it became an inside joke for the — how he would say, ‘ffff’ — and I won’t repeat it here. For the f-word.”

Let me get this straight. Kavanaugh didn’t want to admit that he engaged in — or at least thought about — using girls for sexual conquest in high school. So he thought it was somehow better to admit to mocking someone over an apparent speech impediment? Maybe it is. But is that a smart thing for a potential life-time Supreme Court justice to say in a hearing? Is that using good judgment? Does that matter to many Republicans, including those who opposed a real moderate judge, Merrick Garland, even getting a hearing for almost a year?

Some who knew Kavanaugh’s Squi friend said he didn’t really have a speech impediment but made the prolonged “F” sound when drinking to try to be funny or refer to the real sexual conquest meaning of “FFFFF.” Others noted that Kavanaugh signed the multiple “F’s” with his “Bart” nickname on at least one missive to friends, proving it wasn’t just related to “f-words.” Besides showing that this nominee isn’t being forthcoming about what “FFFFF” really means, he thought that poking fun at someone with a handicap would fly among his supporters and even many casual observers. It worked for Trump, so….

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Brett Kavanaugh in his college days [Photo courtesy of the U.S. White House, in the public domain]

This nominee could say with a straight face that a devil’s triangle is a drinking game and boofing is passing gas and he never got that drunk in high school and didn’t know any of his accusers. And Republicans will believe, because the bar for truth is set so low by the guy who nominated Kavanaugh in the first place.

Many say that what happened 35 years ago should not impact the present day, unless an actual crime was committed back then. Yet, when you consider lifetime appointments to the highest U.S. court, don’t you want people who actually applied themselves in school and weren’t out heavily drinking and accused of assault, rather than the popular bullies? Granted, that some can be a top-ranked party animal and a legal student council nerd, but very few.

As for those who say we have never seen such a partisan, personal campaign against a judge, give me a break. Garland wasn’t even given a chance for a hearing by Senate Republicans despite being nominated in 2016. Harriet Miers, a moderate Republican nominated in 2005, was forced to withdraw after protests from conservatives and liberals. Others have faced partisan battles, especially when they themselves are partisan operatives.

While the watered-down FBI probe helped confirm Kavanaugh more than anything, we now are forced to review what this means for future high-court decisions. Kavanaugh will give the conservative justices a decided advantage on the Supreme Court, replacing the more moderate Anthony Kennedy. But even the most right-wing current justices, such as Clarence Thomas, did not issue a statement in a hearing that sounded like it was more apt to come from a talk-radio host than a Supreme Court nominee.

Kavanaugh has said he can be impartial, but his body of work to this point says otherwise. He began his career working under Ken Starr — who is about as partisan as they come — and followed him to the Office of Independent Counsel. There, Kavanaugh labored on the investigation of former President Bill Clinton and was obsessed with including the bawdiest details in the Starr Report.

Before Clinton was even formally questioned, Kavanaugh snarled in an August 1998 memo that Clinton had “disgraced his office, the legal system and the American people by having sex with a 22-year-old intern.” Furthermore, his bias against Clinton was evident in how he declared him guilty before the president could answer a grand jury’s question and accused Clinton of running “a sustained propaganda campaign [against Starr] that would make Nixon blush.” Clinton should be asked intimate, shocking questions, such as if he “ejaculated into [Monica Lewinsky’s] mouth” and “inserted a cigar into her vagina,” unless he resigned or admitted to perjury, Kavanaugh wrote.

Is it any wonder that Democrats wanted to turn the tables on Kavanaugh and subject him to embarrassing questions about his high school activities that included boofing, devil’s triangles, and sexual assault allegations?

During the 2000 election, Kavanaugh shrilled for George W. Bush’s campaign in the Florida recount, another highly-contentious battle. Bush rewarded him by appointing Kavanaugh as his White House staff secretary.

Starting to see a pattern emerge? This guy was involved in some of the country’s most hotly-fought battles, always on the far-right side. How can he be impartial?

His history as a right-winger was why it took three years to confirm him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. From 2006 until 2018, Kavanaugh had the most conservative voting record on that court, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Incidentally, Garland ranked in the middle of the pack in that analysis. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by Bush in 2005, was tied for the third-most conservative D.C. judge based on his voting from 2003 until 2005. But on the highest court, Roberts has been moderate in some opinions and has tried to hammer out compromises in many cases.

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People protested against the nomination of Kavanaugh at the U.S. Capitol in D.C. in September 2018. [Photo courtesy of Ziggyfan23, Creative Commons license]

Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s other Supreme Court nominee who graduated from the same Georgetown Prep School as Kavanaugh, hasn’t been quite as extreme as many thought he would. But this court with Kavanaugh on it will likely decide against women’s abortion rights and for corporate power. It will also uphold any pardons Trump makes for the numerous officials under him who have been criminally convicted and make it harder for investigations against a sitting president. There will be more partisan votes on major matters of the kind seen in 2001 that stopped legal recounts of the 2000 presidential election.

It’s possible that one of the present moderate-to-conservative judges — such as Roberts or Samuel Alito — will take on Kennedy’s swing-vote, moderate role. But that’s hard to say.

The only thing you can say with conviction is not to expect any courageous decisions like in Brown v. the Board of Education being issued by the Supreme Court in the near future.

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Written for 45+ newspapers/mags. Written some books — see https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-J.-Shay/e/B004BCQRTG. Visited 48 states, 30+ countries.

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