Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Political Power Hunger: What Goes Around, Comes Around -or- Brett Kavanaugh Loves Merrick Garland, And Other Absurdities

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, October 5, 2018

“In the 12 years you’ve been on the D.C. Circuit,
of all the matters that you, and Chief Judge Garland have voted on together,
that you voted together 93% of the time.
Not only that, of the 28 published opinions that you’ve authored
– where Chief Judge Garland was on the panel –
Chief Judge Garland joined 27 out of the 28 opinions you issued when you were on the panel together.
In other words,
he joined 96% of the panel opinions that you’ve written,
when he was on the panel with you.
And the same’s true in the reverse.
Of the 30 published opinions that Chief Judge Garland has written on a panel,
you’ve joined 28 out of 30 of them
– over 93% of those opinions.“

– TX US Senator Ted Cruz (R), as Senate Judiciary Committee member to Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where Merrick Garland is Chief Judge

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (b.1970), Official portrait

Like many, it disgusts me to see the shenanigans that is now passing as a nomination process for Justice to the United States Supreme Court. And just to be clear, I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of any political party.

So, how did we get into this disgusting fray in which a Supreme Court nominee is alleged to have committed felony acts as an older teen?

How did a Constitutionally Mandated process, such as a Supreme Court nomination, become a national disgrace, a veritable circus of hyperbole, scandal, disgrace, outpouring of debauchery, immorality, and even international embarrassment?

In order to answer those questions and more, we must first examine the irony of hypocrisy in an historical context.

Antonin Scalia (1936-2016), Associate Justice, 2013 portrait.

• On February 13, 2016, Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, aged 79, was found dead, apparently having died in his sleep while on a quail hunting trip at Cibolo Creek Ranch near Shafter, one of many Texas ghost towns. Of note, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 1986 after nomination by then-POTUS Ronald Reagan.

President Barack Obama (b.1961), Official portrait, Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

• On March 16, 2016, then-POTUS Barack Obama announced he would nominate Chief Judge Merrick Garland, of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the vacancy. Commonly referred to as the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, it’s also sometimes called the “little Supreme Court” because of its location to the SCOTUS, adjacency to the Capitol, docket of administrative and constitutional cases, and history since WWII of having 5 Judges sent to the SCOTUS – Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and CJ John Roberts.

Merrick Garland (b.1952), Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is a former Federal prosecutor and considered a moderate.

Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, and former Judiciary Committee Chairman, assured POTUS Obama that Garland would be a “consensus nominee,” and earlier, in May 2010 following notice of the retirement of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, said that “I have no doubts that Garland would get a lot of (Senate) votes. And I will do my best to help him get them.”

Orrin Hatch (b.1934), U.S. Senator from Utah, official photo 2015

Former Solicitors General Paul Clement, Gregory G. Garre, Theodore Olson, and Ken Starr – all Republicans – also said Garland was “superbly qualified,” along with several other former SGs. The Solicitor General is the head lawyer who represents the government’s case in legal proceedings before the Supreme Court.

Many thought Garland was an excellent choice for nominee to the SCOTUS. It bears noting as well that Hatch voted to CONFIRM Garland’s nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals by then-POTUS Clinton. Senators Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, and Jeff Sessions were among 23 – all Republicans – who voted AGAINST confirming Garland to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. One Senator did not vote.

Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s official statement on Twitter following news of the death of SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia.

• Within hours of the news of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death, on 13 February 2016, at 3:25 and 3:41PM, respectively, Kentucky Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to Facebook, and Twitter respectively, and press conference, and stated in part that, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Facebook statement following news of SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

With those now-infamous words, Mitch McConnell made ingloriously ignoble American history, because as Senate Majority Leader, he did not even give SCOTUS nominee Chief Judge Merrick Garland the time of day, much less a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, until well after the November 2016 General Election, which created a record-breaking vacancy on the SCOTUS of 422 days. The previous record for a vacancy on a nine member Supreme Court was 389 days, between Abe Fortas’ resignation May 14, 1969, and Harry Blackmun’s oath of office on June 9, 1970. The Senate had Garland’s nomination to the SCOTUS a record-setting 293 days – the longest in Supreme Court nomination history. And with the end of the 114th Congress, on January 3, 2017, Garland’s nomination expired.

Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch (b.1967); photograph by Franz Jantzen, 2017.

Following the outcome of the Electoral College election, the new president nominated Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado, whom had been confirmed by the Senate on a unanimous voice vote July 20, 2006 after nomination by then-POTUS George W. Bush.

The problem is NOT with the process, nor the nominee per se (though disturbing salacious allegations against Kavanaugh certainly seem credible when given the damning preponderance of unanswered questions, corroborating evidence, and the stark absence of those who could – but refuse – to testify in person, which testimony could be exculpatory, nor the additional limited Background Investigation), but the problem is with Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.

Kentucky U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (b.1942)

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, (b.1965), United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Even though Garland and Kavanaugh have voted practically identically for over 90%+ of the time, it was a Republican – KY Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – who, in a matter of hours following news of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, announced there would be NO hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

McConnell continued hammering upon the idea that he would neither approve, nor allow any nominee put forward by President Barack Obama – regardless of qualifications – and said of the Constitutionally mandated nomination process that, “It is a president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court Justice, and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on a President and withhold its consent. I believe the overwhelming view of the Republican Conference in the Senate is that this nomination should not be filled, this vacancy should not be filled by this lame duck president. I can now confidently say the view shared by virtually everybody in my conference, is that the nomination should be made by the president the people elect in the election that’s underway right now.”

On the Senate floor, Sen. McConnell said, “It seems clear President Obama made this nomination not, not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election. I believe the overwhelming view of the Republican Conference in the Senate is that this nomination should not be filled, this vacancy should not be filled by this lame duck president. The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be.”

Consequently, the seat on our nation’s highest court went unfilled for a record-setting time – justice was denied, court cases were back-logged, and the American people’s will was thwarted, all because a Kentucky Republican Senator thumbed his nose at not just the Constitution, but the American people. His utterly contemptuous disregard for the spirit and intent of the law for the Senate to provide “advice and consent” was abhorrently malingering, conspicuously disgusting and selfishly politically manipulative.

Events such as these are part and parcel, and significant signs indicating change is necessary. The process itself isn’t flawed – though neither is it perfect – but the people who manipulate the system for their own selfish ends are to blame. Some call it being “power hungry.”

“A politician’s goal is always to manipulate public debate. I think there are some politicians with higher goals. But all of them get corrupted by power.”
– Dean Koontz

“Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power; but they will never look to anything but power for their relief. When did distresses ever oblige a prince to abdicate his authority? And what effect will it have upon those who are made to believe themselves a people of princes?”
– Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791.

“Nothing, indeed, but the possession of some power can with any certainty discover what at the bottom is the true character of any man.”
– Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter II.

“They realize that in thirty-four months we have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a people’s Government this power is wholesome and proper. But in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people.”
– President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945), Annual Message to the Congress, January 3, 1936. In The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936, p. 16 (1938).

“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
– Frederick Douglass (c. 1817–95), “West India Emancipation,” speech delivered at Canandaigua, New York, August 4, 1857. In The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, ed. Philip S. Foner, vol. 2, p. 437 (1950).

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