The Universal Notebook: Our not-so Supreme Court

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It’s official, the U.S. Supreme Court is now an arm of the Republican Party. The circus hearings and whitewash investigation that the GOP held abandoned all pretense of nonpartisan neutrality, as did the nominee himself, “Blackout” Brett Kavanaugh.

Even once he dons the black robes and mounts the bench of the highest court in the land, Kavanaugh will never be able to shake off the shame and embarrassment of his pathetic performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, dissembling, taunting and mewling like the spoiled prepster he was and is.

Whether it was Kavanaugh who attacked Christine Blasey Ford all those years ago is, in the final analysis, immaterial. The hearings made it clear that he was not fit to serve on any court, let alone the Supreme Court, because he lacks the character and temperament requisite of justice.

The Brett Kavanaugh we saw at the confirmation hearings was consistent with the drunken preppy described by Ford and Kavanaugh’s own classmates. He was a Brett Kavanaugh consistent with a lawyer who never tried a case in his life, a political operative who tried to get President Bill Clinton impeached, which may be why Senate Republicans refused to allow the hundreds of thousands of pages of Kavanaugh’s White House years to be made public.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings brought a bright spotlight to bear on Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, the one hope American women had of keeping Blackout Brett off the bench. I emailed Collins repeatedly and signed on to a letter from some 85 Maine writers, including Stephen King and Pulitzer Prize-winners Richard Russo and Elizabeth Strout, but I never really believed she would vote against Kavanaugh.

You don’t have to be too politically savvy to understand that, if you are going to anger people no matter which way you voted, it’s better to anger people who didn’t vote for her than to anger those who did. In the end, Collins put party before country and voted to confirm Kavanaugh.

Collins pronounced the sham FBI “investigation” that ignored half the people who could have shed light on Kavanaugh’s youthful rowdiness and randiness “very thorough.” The very thorough snow job is what she must have meant. The whole one-week FBI background check was meant solely to give her cover to vote the way she did.

Collins had a choice. She could vote no, so history might remember her as a latter-day Margaret Chase Smith, a Maine woman of conscience and principle. Or she could vote yes, in which case history is more likely to remember her as the naive Aroostook County girl who got suckered by her party not once, but twice – first when she traded a vote on tax reform for a broken promise to stabilize Obamacare premiums, and now when she voted for a justice who gave her his word he would not vote to repeal Roe v. Wade.

Just wait, Susie.

The reason the Kavanaugh hearings became a circus was not just that the nominee was controversial, but that the whole nomination process was rushed. The ostensible reason for this rush to judgment was that Republicans wanted Kavanaugh confirmed before the midterm election, just in case they lose control of the House and/or Senate.

But the more nefarious reason for the hasty hearings was that Republicans want Kavanaugh on the court to help decide Gamble v. U.S., a case that could do away with the separate sovereigns exemption to double jeopardy. What that means is that Donald Trump could then pardon all the criminals in his campaign and administration, without having to worry that state courts would try them separately.

Kavanaugh was nominated solely because of his extremely expansive view that a sitting president is above the law. Now he will be able to help enact that tyrannical principle.

In her long-winded, self-serving capitulation speech on Friday afternoon, Collins made reference to the need to restore faith in the judiciary. Well, letting Kavanaugh lie his way onto the Supreme Court will have just the opposite effect.

The U.S. Supreme Court is now a conservative political operation. Packing the court with political hacks is just one more way the Republican Party is destroying America by destroying our faith in its institutions – Congress, the Presidency and now the Supreme Court.

And we have Maine’s own Susie Creamcheese to thank for that.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

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