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Brett Kavanaugh And Abigail Adams

July 9, 2018

Many a late afternoon a lawyer passes our home, walking back home after working downtown.  At times we have a chance to talk.  As he came within earshot today I asked what his thoughts were just hours before the nation would learn of the pick for a new Supreme Court nominee.

He laughed and said, “Recall that Justice Ginsburg sailed through the Senate 96-3.  We once had a time when logic ruled at least portions of our government.”

What was implied, of course, is that the time of reasonableness has been overtaken by bombast and highly partisan actions.  Nominating a highly charged conservative nominee is the first part of the problem, as opposed to finding a moderate jurist who has an ability to discern law from personally-held partisan beliefs.  But the second part of the problem is a congress that is so fractured and angry that finding the way to an outcome–as was done with Ginsburg—will be impossible.

Several weeks ago I found myself reading a short chapter about the Marbury v. Madison decision (Quarrels That Have Shaped The Constitution, edited by John Garraty)  which enabled judicial review of executive and legislative branch action.  It is a most telling story of our nation’s search for justice as the whole episode requires us to accept that a focal point of political conflict has always been at the center of law and order.  We live at a time where the partisan lines are so clearly drawn–and they were clearly drawn in Chief Justice Marshall’s era, too.  But now, with the ability due to social media and instant communications to move large blocs of constituents and interest groups, the national angst means the nation is even more on a tight-rope.

With federal abortion rights potentially in the balance with the decision of naming Brett Kavanaugh, a D.C. appeals court judge, to the Supreme Court, means that voters in the outer states, like Alaska and Maine, will have a large role in what is about to play out before the nation.  With candidate Donald Trump in 2016 saying women who get an abortion should be punished–“I think there should be some kind of punishment”–means that those who support abortion rights, like Senators Murkowski and Collins, will play an out-sized role in the drama that is now unfolding.

And let us be gut-honest here.  Make no mistake about what is at stake.  The future of the Roe decision along with the Affordable Care Act will be the defining issues in this confirmation fight.  It will be long, harsh, and at times maddening.

And where Democrats have an upper hand is when it comes to those two issues.  Though we are a minority in the Senate, we do have a majority in the Senate on those two issues.  There is, indeed, a majority in the Senate that believes that Roe should not be overturned.  There is also a majority that believes the Affordable Care Act should not be gutted.

Democrats know the strain they are under as this fight is now underway.  I get the fact that some conservative Democrats in red states may chose their career over the fate of the nation.  That a politician thinks short-term if not a new thing.  To them, however, I would simply urge a reading of history.

It was Abigail Adams who wrote her “Dearest” as the construction of the constitution was underway, “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”  (If you have not read the many letters between Abigail and John please consider doing so.  Remarkable.)

Women have proven a keen political ability to show what they think of being short-changed and under-mined.  The Democratic Party has a self-interest to not anger a reliable voting base.  There will be a price to be paid for not demonstrating in very clear language where one stands when it comes to the most personal health care decisions a woman can make.

One Comment
  1. pattilynn9 permalink
    July 10, 2018 8:45 AM

    I think Brett Kavanaugh made a good impression at his announced nomination.

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