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Can Flake's FBI Investigation Save Reputation of Senate and SCOTUS?

Can Flake's FBI Investigation Save Reputation of Senate and SCOTUS?
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., center, speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill, on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Sen. Flake is on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

By Monday, 01 October 2018 03:32 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It would take a William Shakespeare or a John Milton to do justice to our current plight, but there is a scene in the great film "Raiders of the Lost Ark" that does come close. It is when Harrison Ford’s heroic character, Indiana Jones, is confronted with scores of snarling snakes and we are left wondering how he’s going to miracuously escape.

That was Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in his testimony following that of the apparently wounded Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, where the diabolically reptilian Democrats sought to make Kavanaugh pay for all the wrongs men had ever done to women.

How could a controversy over filling a seat on the U.S. Supreme court descend into such a grotesque parody of a medieval morality play? How can we ever know for certain which of the two was telling the truth, when both seemed so sincerely believable?

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., appears to believe that having a week’s delay, so that the FBI can investigate, will be enough to reassure the American public that the Senate is doing its duty, and that senators have done everything they can to assure that Kavanaugh is not a molester of women.

Flake has been vilified by some conservatives, on the theory that he has succumbed to the bad-faith efforts of the Democrats, who have vowed to do anything within their power to keep Kavanaugh off the Court, and who will use this delay further to subject the nominee to unverifiable slander.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. got it right when he stated that "This is the most unethical sham since I've been in politics . . . I hope that the American people will see through this charade."

Nevertheless — Graham appeared to concede the sincerity of his colleague, Flake.

Sen. Flake appears actually to believe that both the reputation of the court and the Senate will be enhanced if, as he thinks, this extra week will convince partisans that the procedure being followed is fair.

Given that it's doubtful any new convincing information will be forthcoming, we will likely be precisely where we are now at the conclusion of the FBI’s work.

Worse, it's already clear that Democrats are claiming that one week’s time is not enough; that by limiting the investigation to the two "credible" claims of alleged misconduct on Kavanaugh’s part, the investigation is rigged in Kavanaugh’s favor.

If the delay were to serve as cover for some Democrats to vote in favor of Kavanaugh, as President Trump appears to believe is possible, something might be gained, as it would be better for the nation for Kavanaugh to have bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, the poisonous politics of our U.S. Supreme Court confirmation battles, begun with the 1987 attack on Judge Robert Bork. They show no sign of subsiding.

It is Sen. Graham’s message that needs to be heeded.

Following Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's famous "Robert Bork’s America" speech, when Kennedy predicted that if Bork was confirmed women would die in back-alley abortions, the clock would be turned back on civil rights, and repression would rule, Bork confronted Kennedy and told him that he, Kennedy, knew that none of that was true.

Kennedy admitted as much to Bork, and suggested that it was nothing personal, only "politics."

The Kavanaugh hearings show that the spirit of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy lives on among the Democrats. Kavanaugh’s colleagues, friends, and schoolmates have all attested to his character and his veracity. He is obviously the best-qualified candidate for the court in our lifetime.

Yet he and his family have been vilified. Our politics should be better than this, and that’s what Senator Flake seems to want.

Milton’s Satan, acting through the serpent in the garden of Eden, used deception to tempt Eve and thus to alienate her and her husband from Paradise and from God. Evil remains with us, and it is at work to tarnish the reputation of a good man.

Perhaps the struggle to reform the Supreme Court and to tame the federal leviathan, is just a skirmish in endless wars between elites over who will hold the levers of power and who will skim off ill-gotten gains from the bounty of the federal revenues.

For those of us who believe we are capable of something better as a people, though, for those of us who saw in Donald Trump the possibility of the return to an era when our traditional values and principles were taken seriously, the Kavanaugh confirmation is something different.

Like Trump, and like all of us, Kavanaugh is a flawed human being, but he is far from the monster the Democrats wrongly and falsely would make him out to be. He, along with Trump, may be our last, best hope to return us to a government of laws rather than one of deceit, corruption, and manipulation.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s colleagues, friends, and schoolmates have all attested to his character and his veracity. He is obviously the best-qualified candidate for the court in our lifetime. Yet he and his family have been vilified. Our politics should be better than this.
flake, graham, kennedy, milton, shakespeare
Monday, 01 October 2018 03:32 PM
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