In 'Crazytown,' Brett Kavanaugh's sanity and intellect stand out

Judge Brett Kavanaugh has maintained his composure under a particularly grueling level of interrogation rare...

Posted: Sep 7, 2018 5:02 PM
Updated: Sep 7, 2018 5:02 PM

Judge Brett Kavanaugh has maintained his composure under a particularly grueling level of interrogation rarely seen outside a courtroom. But perhaps the biggest challenge to his bid for confirmation as an associate justice of the US Supreme Court may lie in his views on the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationally.

A leaked email obtained by the New York Times showed that as an official in the George W. Bush administration 15 years ago, Kavanaugh questioned whether legal scholars widely believed Roe v. Wade was "settled law." Kavanaugh wrote in 2003, "I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so."

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His comments before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week were more nuanced -- he called the right to abortion as outlined in the Roe v. Wade decision "important precedent," adding that the precedent had been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in the case of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. He also defended his dissent from a circuit court ruling that enabled a 17-year-old woman being held in an immigration detention center to end her pregnancy.

Many Democratic senators have mined their questions from Kavanaugh's written record of hundreds of thousands of documents as well as published court opinions and law journal articles authored by the 53-year-old Yale Law School graduate, former special prosecutor, presidential advisor and federal appellate judge; its voluminous nature bears comparison to that of Judge Robert Bork, whose confirmation bid was famously sunk 30 years ago.

This time, there was an added twist. Even emails on threads from the distant past appeared to be fair game for questioning of Kavanaugh in our new era of perpetual electronic information storage.

The questions around Roe v. Wade may have the most potential to block his confirmation. Kavanaugh may need all the Republican votes to win confirmation and thus would not be able to afford the loss of either Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine or Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have expressed support for abortion rights.

Though sticking to the "Ginsburg Rule"—named after Justice Ruth Ginsburg for declining to answer questions during her confirmation hearing that she felt might reveal how she would vote in future Supreme Court cases -- Kavanaugh's description of Roe as a precedent made it seem that it would have a firm basis in law under the doctrine of "stare decisis", which means "to stand by things decided." It is a doctrine which in turn has a "constitutional basis" as outlined in "The Federalist Papers."

Another issue which has the potential to sink the Kavanaugh ship is his newly-found devotion to the idea that Congress should pass a law making it clear that a sitting president should be immune from the duty to respond to either criminal or civil process (subpoenas or trials etc.) during his term in office. Kavanaugh, while working for Independent Counsel Ken Starr, had no problem with aggressively prosecuting and eventually seeking the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Kavanaugh says he only realized the need for keeping presidents focused on American security interests and undisturbed by the threat of civil or criminal litigation when he worked for President George Bush in the aftermath of 9/11. In fact Judge Kavanaugh has written a law journal article about the subject with which the Democrats can torment him when they tire of the Roe vs. Wade focus.

Kavanaugh's apparent devotion to presidential power, undisturbed by the bother of responding to criminal or civil cases in court, was undoubtedly good news for President Donald Trump who is having a very bad week in most other respects.

His week began with a Twitter attack on his own attorney general Jeff Sessions for having the audacity to indict two of the President's early Congressional supporters. Apparently no one has advised Mr. Trump that the federal criminal code does not contain a provision granting immunity from prosecution to a President's early supporters.

This was then followed by the widespread publication of embarrassing excerpts from Bob Woodward's new book "Fear: Trump in the White House," which depicts, based on alleged confidential interviews with Trump's top advisers, a frighteningly chaotic and dysfunctional White House.

The President's day finally concluded with the news that an anonymous senior official had published an op-ed in the New York Times describing the existence of a "resistance faction" operating secretly in the administration to protect the nation from the President's "half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back."

Yet another Woodward quote seemed to sum the whole thing up. Chief of Staff John Kelly has described the White House as "crazytown." Though Kelly now denies this, one thing is clear. If the White House is "crazytown," the country has an even greater need for clear thinking and sanity on the Supreme Court.

Though clearly out of the mainstream in his views that sitting presidents should not be subjected to the burden of responding to the subpoena power of the courts and grand juries, Kavanaugh has otherwise demonstrated a finely honed legal mind and a resume brimming with impressive achievements.

Amidst the chaos, in the unlikely event Kavanagh is rejected, Trump would be hard-pressed to replace him with a more impressive or qualified nominee. The Democrats might be wise to reconsider their opposition to the highly regarded Kavanaugh, a man who unlike the President, has actually read not only "The Federalist Papers" but also the Constitution of the United States.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
Lauderdale7181240
Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
Lafayette6171118
Washington5323133
Bolivar4797132
Oktibbeha461498
Panola4561105
Pearl River4499145
Marshall4397103
Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
Neshoba4026176
Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
Winston226881
Tishomingo225967
Jasper220848
Attala214173
Chickasaw207157
Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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