Many conservative friends could not contain their excitement when the final vote for Judge Kavanaugh was announced. Many rushed to their Twitter account to predict that Roe v. Wade would soon be consigned to the ash heap of history.
The histrionics of the looney left mirrored the excitement on the right. We smiled at the scenes of unhinged demonstrators pounding on the metal doors of the Supreme Court. Those scenes will be remembered for a long time.
We will also remember the anticipation, waiting for the 3:00 announcement of Maine’s Senator Susan Collins. When she finally delivered her speech on the floor of the Senate, neither side could wait for her conclusion. It was high drama. Her remarks were both reasoned and principled. Whatever you may think about Senator Collins, she is her own person. She did what a Senator is expected to do. She asked tough questions and listened carefully to the answers. She was not intimidated by the hate-filled, angry mob. She came to her own conclusions and announced them in calm and measured tones.
It was branded as one of the greatest Senate speeches in recent memory. That may say something about the quality of the oratory of her contemporaries. But, it was a good speech. She used a razor to slice through the disgusting muck that Democrats had thrown at this good man.
The Left predictably and immediately unleashed fire, furry and vitriol. They pledged millions to defeat her in her next election. Traitor! She would be forever banished from the feminist plantation. How could she turn her back on her gender?
The Right just as predictably heaped high praise on her. She had become a genuine statesman (stateswoman?) in their eyes. Carving a special place in history.
What both sides seemed to have missed is what she actually had said leading up to her historic announcement. She recounted the nearly three hours, both in her office and on the phone, that she had spent with the Judge. Senator Collins reviewed the questions she had asked and how he had answered them. Those answers should give pause to the celebrants and comfort to his detractors.
We have been repeatedly assured that Brett Kavanaugh is a solid constitutional conservative. That he will be a critical ally in the drive to restore sanity to the court. This is a court that from campaign finance to gay marriage to ObamaCare has been an embarrassing disappointment. All of those decisions were decided by Republican appointees. Justices that we had been assured would be “solid”. To say that they have tried to steer clear of matters that should have been decided by accountable elected officials is laughable.
Review for yourself and listen carefully to what the Senior Senator from Maine told us at https://youtu.be/LJRdMh1XhAY
She repeatedly called Judge Kavanaugh a centrist. She reinforced that point with several examples. On over 93% of the cases jointly decided, he and Judge Merrick Garland concurred. Was it a Garland fellow traveler that we had in mind? Lisa Black, who clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and has argued more cases in front of the Supreme Court than any other woman, offered high praise for Kavanaugh. Black is a self-professed staunch defender of Roe and said that he “fits within the mainstream of legal thought.”
Kavanaugh called Marbury v. Madison one of the four greatest Supreme Court rulings. This is the bedrock ruling upon which all judicial activism is built.
Senator Collins reminded us that Kavanaugh had tried to find middle ground on the matter of forcing religious orders to offer contraceptives to employees. Fine. But, he went further. He offered that this was “settled law” citing Griswold v. Connecticut and that the “government had a compelling interest in facilitating access to birth control.”
Compelling interest? Access? Really?
But, it was his reverence to precedents that was most troubling. Collins clearly probed deeply on the 45 year old Roe decision. He told her that past decisions become “part of our legal framework.” He added that precedents are not merely judicial policy, not a goal, but a constitutional tenant. That they were “not to be trimmed, narrowed or overlooked.” When she asked about Planned Parenthood v. Casey, (a decision co-authored by Justice David Souter) he told her that it was “precedent on precedent.”
Somehow legendary philosopher Yogi Berra comes to mind. Is this deja vu all over again?
We can all celebrate that Justice Kavanaugh survived the ruthless assault on his character. But, exactly what kind of a Justice he will become remains an open question.
Gil Gutknecht served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota. He writes about healthcare and political issues of the day. He is currently working on a book about the high costs of Rx drugs.