Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino's new book, Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court, gives readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the nastiest, most divisive Supreme Court confirmation hearing in recent history. They spoke with over 100 people while compiling their research - including President Trump.
Kavanaugh had the qualifications, having served for 12 years on the D.C. appellate court. And the confirmation process didn't seem to be anymore partisan than usual. But when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) presented a letter she had received from a woman named Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, things took a turn for the worst. Ford alleged that Kavanaugh had raped her at a high school party in the 1980s, and Democrats worked overtime trying to prove it. Even to the point where they obsessed over his old high school yearbook. They had deemed him guilty before all the evidence had been presented.
One of the major turning points in the chaos of Kavanaugh's nomination was his 45-minute passionate opening statement during the reopened hearings, which Justice on Trial describes in detail. The nominee kept editing his remarks with his Sharpie right up until the last minute, and didn't let the White House see his draft.
"I want to say that [the White House] were not particularly nervous," the authors told Townhall on Monday. "It’s just a reflection on how particularly different this White House is and I think from all other Republican and Democratic White Houses they knew—actually one of the things we learned was that the team that was managing the process learned from the Gorsuch nomination that there’s a reason why these people are being nominated to the Supreme Court and part of it is that they are just really competent, capable people and that there’s limits to how much you can direct the process anyway and so sometimes that ends up not being to anyone’s best interests but them—they understand best who they are and how to portray them."
It was his bold, angry, defensive statement that just may have saved his nomination, they write in the book.
But, it wasn't just his nomination he had to save. He was fighting for his reputation too. Kavanaugh's community was a major source of support during the whole ordeal.
"Whether it was friends who were just trying to make sure that the girls had things to do, going out on play dates, etc. They obviously did cover the political spectrum and were nonetheless respectful," Hemingway and Severino recalled.
They shared an anecdote about how Kavanaugh's neighbors worked together to at least try and shield his daughters from the media crusade against their dad.
"They were visiting a country club with their friends and they were sitting at the bar and the TV comes out with something about him and I think it was even the person at the bar who went and turned it off," the authors explained. "That community was really—wanted to be respectful of their girls and that really spoke highly of everyone around them."
Back in Washington, some lawmakers showed some guts in the Kavanaugh fight, but as the authors note there were quite a few cowards on the hill too.
"I will say it was interesting to see who showed a lot of courage and who did not," Hemingway and Severino shared. "I think people would probably be surprised at who were some of the people —I think they have this idea of who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. But we were frankly surprised to learn of some of the people. We found some exemplary courage for example with Susan Collins, or President Trump for standing up for the nominee."
Sen. Collins surely belongs in the "courage" column. She delivered an epic speech on the Senate floor before the Kavanaugh vote, explaining to the progressive groups who had warned her not to vote for the nominee that they had actually convinced her to vote for him. She was true to her word. Not only did she vote for Kavanaugh and seal his confirmation, but to this day, despite the death threats and her upcoming re-election battle, she stands behind her vote.
It was all worth it, according to Hemingway and Severino, because Kavanaugh has shown himself to be a more than capable justice in his first term.
"He’s faithful to the constitution, faithful to the law, he has very strong decisions, especially religious freedom, property rights, separation of powers," they conclude.
Rumor has it that the Democrats have a secret list of judges they refuse to make public. Severino, whose group, the Judicial Crisis Network, has been working to expose the hidden agenda, gave the party some advice.
"I would encourage the Democratic nominees to publicize their list, and I think they have to be aware that if they’re not willing to do so, what does that suggest?" she asked. "Does that suggest it’s a list of people the American people can get behind? Or is it a list of people who are so extreme that it wouldn’t help them to let people know who it is? I think it should be a debate that we have out in the open in every presidential election."
Justice on Trial is available on Tuesday. As of Monday, before its official release, it had already claimed the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s New Releases list.