institutions

Senate Republicans appear poised to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court by the end of the week. This is merely the latest attempt by the Republican Party to undermine Democratic institutions and erode Americans’ faith in government.

Grover Norquist, author of the so-called “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” in which roughly 1,400 Republicans and Democrats in predominantly red districts have promised to not vote for any new tax increases, once said he wanted to “reduce [government] to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

This attitude has contributed to Republican antipathy toward government for decades, culminating in former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon telling the Conservative Political Action Conference that the goal of the Trump administration was the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Evidence of Bannon’s goal was seen early on in the appointments of former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy — an agency he once said he wanted to abolish during a 2012 Republican presidential debate — and billionaire heiress Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education despite never once being educated at, teaching in, or volunteering for any public school.

Republicans’ insistence on ramming through Brett Kavanaugh will obviously delegitimize the Supreme Court, and other judicial institutions by default. The fact that his confirmation is all but assured despite more than 650 law professors (including 13 from Yale, where he earned his law degree) saying he lacked the judicial temperament to serve on the Supreme Court, and despite the multiple sexual misconduct accusations against him by multiple women — one of them being a federal employee with an active security clearance — proves this point.

Title 28, Section 455 of U.S. Code lays out the conditions for which a federal judge is expected to recuse themselves in cases “which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The first disqualifying factor listed in that section is if a judge “has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.” Kavanaugh’s partisan attacks lobbed at Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, and his characterization of Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault accusation as “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” shows that Kavanaugh obviously has “a personal bias or prejudice” against Democrats, which would obviously lead to people arguing cases before the Supreme Court to question his impartiality in matters involving politics.

Leaving aside Kavanaugh’s obvious favoritism toward Republicans and hatred of Democrats, he’s obviously unqualified to serve as a federal judge, let alone the U.S. Supreme Court. As Current Affairs’ Nathan Robinson wrote in his exhaustive breakdown of Kavanaugh’s Thursday testimony, there are multiple examples of Kavanaugh lying under oath, a crime for which previous federal judges have been removed.

Out of all of the questionable statements Kavanaugh made before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Robinson pointed out that the most egregious was his insistence that he never got black-out drunk to where he couldn’t remember his actions the next day. In his article, Robinson took note of the former classmates who went to Yale University with Kavanaugh and remembered him as “frequently incoherently drunk” and “aggressive and belligerent” when abusing alcohol, which flies in the face of the account he gave under oath:

“[Kavanaugh’s] decision to present himself as squeaky clean, rather than wayward but subsequently redeemed, brings us to some of the most absurd untruths of Kavanaugh’s whole testimony. The evidence that he was more than an ordinary social drinker is voluminous. His yearbook lists him as treasurer of the ‘Keg City Club,’ and his entry says ‘100 Kegs or Bust,’ apparently referring to a ‘campaign by his friends to empty 100 kegs of beer during their senior year.’ … It also says he was the “biggest contributor” to the Beach Week Ralph Club, which he admitted was a reference to vomiting. … In total, the New York Times cited “nearly a dozen people” who knew Kavanaugh and confirmed he was a “heavy drinker.”

But perhaps Republicans’ determination to confirm Kavanaugh despite all of the evidence that would normally disqualify any applicant in any job interview, much less a job interview for a lifetime Supreme Court appointment, is based not on established norms, but on a promise to delegitimize and undermine Democratic institutions — including the Supreme Court.

Once Americans lose all faith in all government institutions, this will give Republicans further justification to increasingly privatize public sector duties to corporations, and convert the government into not a public body that holds private power accountable on behalf of the public, but into an engine for corporate profit that runs roughshod on the public with no accountability. America is just about there, and Kavanaugh’s confirmation will only lead us further down that path.

 

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