Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has gone through what has become an obscene Kabuki process known as a confirmation hearing to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It is the Democrats’ turn to whine and moan about how badly she has been treated by Republicans on the committee.
You don’t have to go back to Robert Bork, nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to see how viciously a nominee could be treated by Democrats. It was so bad that for a while in Our Nations Capital, “being Borked” was a phrase in common usage to describe being treated horribly during a confirmation process.
Sort of like adding the suffix “-gate” to describe any scandal in Washington.
I was no of Bork. Speaking of Watergate, Bork, as the Solicitor-General of the U.S. acceded to the demand by President Richard Nixon that Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox be fired.
The Attorney General, Elliot Richardson refused and resigned. The Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refused and resigned. Robert Bork fired Cox.
This sequence of events has been known as the “Saturday Night Massacre” ever since.
Bork was denied confirmation by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 42–58.
In more modern times, Democrats savaged Judge Brett Kavanaugh, nominated by President Donald Trump, who had been accused of several instances of sexual assault while in high school. Kavanaugh was a terrible witness, getting into a verbal fight with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) over his beer-drinking habits.
After a break, Kavanaugh apologized to Klobuchar, but the damage was done, thus providing additional proof of that old legal aphorism, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
Kavanaugh was confirmed by the full Senate by a vote of 50-48.
The most egregious treatment of a SCOTUS nominee was the case of Merrick Garland who was nominated in March of 2019 by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Republicans controlled the U.S. Senate and Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) decided that inasmuch as there were only 10 months remaining in the Democratic Presidency of Barack Obama, the NEXT President should nominate someone to fill the vacancy.
No committee hearings were held. No Senate floor vote was taken. Judge Garland went back to the Court of Appeals where he remained until he was nominated by President Joe Biden to be the Attorney General of the United States.
On September 29, 2020, that same President Trump who had less than four months left in his term, appointed Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Amy Coney Barret was confirmed by the full (Republican controlled) Senate by a vote of 52–48 on October 26, about one week before Trump was defeated in the 2020 election.
The Republicans chose, as their line of attack, some of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s sentences to people convicted of possession of child pornography when she was a trial judge – not an appellate court judge.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo) spent his entire 30 minutes of questioning on her sentence of three months to an 18-year-old defendant. Hawley kept hammering on the fact that even the prosecutors wanted a longer sentence.
What Judge Jackson should have said to Hawley “Trial judges are not bound by what the prosecutors want, nor by what the defense team wants. Trial judges are impartial arbiters. If you don’t agree, that’s your right, Senator.”
The other hairball that hammered Judge Jackson on her sentences in child porn cases was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) who should make every Texan cringe with embarrassment when they remember he succeeded Kay Bailey Hutchison.
We know that Senators do not do their own research to ask these questions. They are written by staff – often the staff member who most recently graduated from law school – who then call their mom and brag “That was my question!”
Judge Jackson maintained her composure. She’ll get a Senate floor vote and she will take her place on the U.S. Supreme Court.
It is long past time that SCOTUS nominations provide a platform for bloviating Senators of both parties not to examine the qualifications of the nominee, but to make points that will appeal to their base whether that base is Qanon or primary voters in 2024.
Shakespeare had it right when he had Macbeth say:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
See you next week.