What was thought would be a confirmation process that would have lots of noise but little action, has taken a dangerous turn for the President’s choice for the Supreme Court
The US Senate Judiciary Committee’s process to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh has just gotten very dicey. Thanks to the potency of the #MeToo movement and how close these hearings are to the 2018 Midterm elections, it will be interesting how this will play out. For many Republicans, voting any way at all has become very dangerous. Not voting at all is unacceptable. Just as dangerous is being too vocal and confrontational with the female accusers. The last thing Republicans want is a process that reminds people of an all male panel questioning Anita Hill as she discussed Clarence Thomas.
To avoid such imagery, Yahoo News notes that a “female sex-crimes prosecutor tapped by Senate Republicans to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about allegations of sexual assault could have a tough time in such a contentious political environment, Arizona attorneys who know her said Wednesday.
“Rachel Mitchell, a Republican, was expected to question both Kavanaugh and the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her when they were teenagers has raised a political storm in the #MeToo era and the GOP’s all-male presence on the panel made some want a woman to question Ford.
“Mitchell works in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix as the chief of the Special Victims Division. She supervises attorneys who handle cases involving child molestation, sexual assault and computer crimes against children in Arizona’s most populous county.”
Still, even with a female attorney hired to do the “heavy lifting,” members are going to have to weigh in with their thoughts of the nominee and of his accusers.
Here are those Senators and a quick overview of their likely role (if any).
- Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Chairman. As the Chairman of the committee, expect the Senator to maintain a low profile and try to give (at least) the impression of fairness.
- Orrin Hatch, Utah. Once a conservative darling, Hatch is now seen as very establishment. Furthermore, age has caught up with him. He seems unable to maintain relevance. He had a moment in which he took off “imaginary glasses” that has become the butt of many jokes about the Senator’s ability to serve. He’s retiring and it is unlikely he will have much to say during these hearings.
- Lindsey Graham, South Carolina. Graham was probably the closest friend that the late Sen. John McCain had and was very angry of the President’s treatment of the “Maverick” of the Senate. However, Graham has made his position clear that he thought the judge was a good choice. It is being reported “Sen. Lindsey Graham has made it his mission to aggressively, eagerly defend Brett Kavanaugh at all costs. As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to hear testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and one of his accusers Thursday, the South Carolina Republican — a senior member of the panel— has crafted a role as a full-throated defender of the embattled D.C. Circuit Court judge.”
- John Cornyn, Texas. The Senate Minority Whip has emphasized fairness and has been rather quiet about the future of Kavanaugh. He is expected to maintain a low profile.
- Mike Lee, Utah. It is being reported that Lee “has kept relatively silent about accusations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, his communications director has let loose on Twitter, raising questions about the credibility of the two women making allegations and touting an alternative scenario about mistaken identity.” A Mormon women’s group has called for the postponement of the Kavanaugh hearings until an investigation has been done on the nominee. In light of the influence of the Mormon church in Utah, this might have an impact on Lee’s approach.
- Ted Cruz, Texas. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is the only Republican member of the Judiciary Committer who is up for reelection in 2018 (Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has decided to retire). In college at Princeton University, Cruz was one of the most successful debaters in the history of the school and is famous for “gotcha moments” when questioning those called to testify of the Judiciary Committee. However, with a perceive close race against “Beto” O’Rourke and the GOPs “women issues,” there is a high likelihood he will be fairly quiet as we enter the next stage of the hearings — testimony from at least one accuser of the judge of committing (what she describes) as sexual assault in high school. Unless something earth shattering happens in those hearing, Cruz will vote for the judge, but do not expect his same old confrontational style during the hearings.
- Ben Sasse, Nebraska. Sasse is one of eight Republicans that are undecided on Kavanaugh. It is doubtful he will do much to help the judge in the days to come.
- Jeff Flake, Arizona. No fan of Trump, but one who has called for fairness, he has now declared that they should delay the confirmation process.
- Mike Crapo, Idaho. Once a fairly passionate supporter of Kavanaugh, Crapo is now calling for caution and further investigation.
- Thom Tillis, North Carolina. Tillis is likely to be one of Kavanaugh’s most serious supporters in the Senate. It is being reported that “He’s likely to support Kavanaugh and blasted Democrats “for making a conscious decision to sit on this serious allegation for nearly two months without taking action.” But, he said that he hopes the hearing is “a fair, respectful and evidence-based process for all sides.”
- John Kennedy, Louisiana. He seems to be a cautious supporter of the judge, telling MSNBC “I Believe Brett Kavanaugh, But I Want To Hear Ford,” says the Senator. It is hard to tell if he will be particularly helpful to Kavanaugh’s efforts.
With the lack of depth of support for the judge, and how close it is to the elections, it will likely be dicey waters for the nominee and the GOP. It is believed by many that, thanks to the late nature of all these accusation, that these are happening now only to derail Tump’s nominee before the midterm elections. If Kavanaugh’s nomination fails to lead to a confirmation and voters find that the he was unfairly treated, Democrats could find itself losing seats and finding an even “less acceptable” nominee (by their standards) when it comes to policy positions.