NYT: A bitter nominee, questions of neutrality, and a damaged Supreme Court

“In the first round of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings early this month, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh kept his cool under hostile questioning, stressed his independence, and exhibited the calm judicial demeanor that characterized his dozen years on a prestigious appeals court bench,” as The New York Times is reporting.

“’The Supreme Court,’ he said, ‘must never be viewed as a partisan institution.’

“His performance on Thursday, responding to accusations of sexual misconduct at a hearing of the same Senate committee, sent a different message. Judge Kavanaugh was angry and emotional, embracing the language of slashing partisanship. His demeanor raised questions about his neutrality and temperament and whether the already fragile reputation of the Supreme Court as an institution devoted to law rather than politics would be threatened if he is confirmed.

“In a sharp break with decorum, Judge Kavanaugh responded to questions about his drinking from two Democratic senators — Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — with questions of his own about theirs. He later apologized to Ms. Klobuchar.

“The charged language recalled Judge Kavanaugh’s years as a partisan Republican, working for Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated a series of scandals involving Bill and Hillary Clinton, and serving as an aide in the administration of George W. Bush. It was less consistent with the detached judicial temperament that lawyers associate with an ideal judge.

“All of this, said Judith Resnik, a law professor at Yale, was ‘partisan and not judicious.’ Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation in the wake of his performance, she added, could leave the Supreme Court ‘under a cloud of politics and scandal from which it would not recover for decades.’

The rest of the article is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

2 thoughts on “NYT: A bitter nominee, questions of neutrality, and a damaged Supreme Court”

  1. One of the most comical experiences for me is reading the local “bro’s” — Todd and Barry — discussion of national politics on Todd’s blog on Saturday morning. I imagine them sitting on the wrap-around porch with a cup of joe in hand (Folger’s) in Nevada County. But it’s Nevada County, Arkansas — not Nevada County, California. Gentlemen, this is the Golden State — home to Silicon Valley, the farm-to-table movement, authentic Mexican food, Santa Monica, and UC Berkeley. It’s not the Deep South! Embrace it, though. After all, there are no boll weevils! LOL.

  2. Whenever there’s a Supreme Court vacancy and someone is undergoing the confirmation process, I’m reminded of what Justice Stephen Field wrote when he submitted his letter of resignation in 1897.

    Stephen Field –– the man who, as our first state assemblyman, introduced the bill that created Nevada County out of a portion of Yuba County in 1851 and saw to it that Nevada City would be the county set –– was Chief Justice of the California State Supreme Court in 1863 when President Lincoln nominated him for a seat on the high court in Washington, D.C.

    Justice Field, who went on to serve 34 years on the court, was an ardent Democrat nominated by a Republican president and unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Imagine that.

    His 1897 letter of resignation included the following observation:

    “Senators represent their States and Representatives their constituents, but this Court stands for the whole country, and as such it is truly of the people, by the people and for the people. It has, indeed, no power to legislate. It cannot appropriate a dollar of money. It carries neither the purse nor the sword. But it possesses the power of declaring the law, and in that is found the safeguard which keeps the whole of government from rushing to destruction.”

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