The Kavanaugh Nomination and the Founders’ Hope

512px-Panorama_of_United_States_Supreme_Court_Building_at_DuskMost deeply at stake in the decision regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation is the further erosion of public trust in the institutions on which this democratic republic was founded. The Supreme Court was the one institution intended to do its work high above the cock fights of special interest, prevailing winds, and partisanship.

256px-Constitution_of_the_United_States,_page_1Democratic republics are built on trust. The American people’s trust in the republic’s institutions was the bedrock on which the U.S. Constitution was framed and adopted. The genesis of American independence and sovereignty lay in a hope yet to be tested: whether the American experiment would meet the test of being a nation “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The experiment would depend on the American people’s readiness to trust — and the trustworthiness of those institutions.

No institution of government was more important than the U.S. Supreme Court. While the legislative and executive branches are blown by the winds of the American electorate, the Supreme Court was to more objective, above the influence of partisan agendas and popular winds. The Supreme Court was the guardian of the Constitution, the final decision-maker of cases of that came to it from disputed cases in the lower courts.

In previous eras of the American republic, the justices of the Supreme Court worked behind the screen of public scrutiny. As America morphed into an entertainment culture, the justices’ personal lives and views came out from behind the screen of the legal holy of holies onto the stage of public scrutiny. They made speeches. They heard applause. They became either heros or villains. Like the Wizard of Oz, their humanity frailty came was eposed. A sacred hope — the trust in the Court to stand above the cockfights down the in the valley — died.

Judge_Brett_KavanaughTomorrow (Thursday) the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing will be at the top of the news. One of the three women who accuse Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault or abuse will be examined by an prosecuting attorney selected by the ruling party majority. The cameras will then turn to Judge Kavanaugh expected denial, the equivalent of a court rebuttal. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has scheduled a vote Friday morning.

One need not be a partisan to object to the process. One need only think of the bedrocks of the people’s trust in their government’s institutions and our perception of their trust-worthiness. The founders’ hope for the American experiment is at risk because of the very institutions established by the U.S. Constitution.

4 thoughts on “The Kavanaugh Nomination and the Founders’ Hope

  1. After listening to Chris Hayes and Rachel (I admit I couldn’t bring myself to watch the whole thing), there is more than one glaring problem here. There is all the background stuff (refusal to allow a follow-up FBI investigation, the whole format, etc.). But what I haven’t seen talked of much is the appalling lack of judicial temperament on Kavanaugh’s part. Good heaven’s — he ranted. No one should trust him to judge fairly after reviewing the evidence impartially. Of course I never expected tthat in any 45 nominee, but I did expect the lack to be concealed; that is I expected a certain level of hypocrisy from him. They are just brazening it out. (Sorry for misusing adjective “brazen” as a verb.)


    • Carolyn, I couldn’t agree more. The other thing that has been given too little attention is the shift AWAY FROM the Rachel Mitchell as the GOP questioner. She was getting too close! The look in her eyes while questioning Kavanaugh was different from what it had been in the morning. She’s been around the block on this. She knows the behaviors of survivors and victims, and the belligerence of perpetrators. THAT shift from Ms. Mitchell’s careful attempt to get to the truth to Lindsay Graham’s rant was the story. They didn’t want the truth.


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