Being Noah Tesfaye #48: What is Chief Justice Roberts Thinking Right Now?

There is no single news story that is more important today than this one. This story has been everywhere, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people were claiming, “Can we just be done with this already?”

And to some extent, I could agree with you. Yes, this process is long and tedious, but it is imperative to the function of this democracy. It is, as I’ve said in previous posts, the most important branch of the US government. And the single question I really want the answer to is this: what in the world does SCOTUS, and Chief Justice John Roberts especially, think of these confirmation hearings?

If you remember, I wrote the weekend following Associate Justice Kennedy’s resignation that I believed that he would be a severe threat to so many precedents, and more importantly, as a threat to continue to make the court more partisan. I did not discredit him as a person, and it appeared, up until these hearings, that although strongly conservative, he appeared to be a good human being. That was, of course, until the accusations became public.

These accusations were clear and credible. They were fact-checked and backed with hours of research, and many major news outlets believed these stories to be sincere. I believe them.

After watching Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview that aired last Monday, I really began to feel like he wasn’t truthful. His outlandish claims about his virginity as a young man, along with his proud claims he only moderately drank in high school sound like jokes any kid who participates in similar activities at my own school would say. He didn’t accept the claims that he was sometimes seen visibly unaware while under the influence, and once his yearbook was discovered, what doubt was left to really believe 100% of that interview, let alone what he had claimed in public.

We get to Thursday, and Dr. Christine Blasey testified to her allegations as clear as anyone who has suffered sexual trauma could. She recalled clear details, yet at times did not remember other facts, like how she got home. There is psychological evidence to backup the idea that she very well does not remember due to the horrific events that could have taken place. Again, I believe her.

But the most convincing, telling behavior of that day was with Kavanaugh himself. He was erratic, indirect, and unclear with most of his direct answers. The questions about his drinking especially, which could have possibly caused lapses in his memory to not recall the events of that evening, were about as combative as I’ve ever seen. He lacked composure, poise, and most of all, respect for those questioning him. In one memorable moment, after Senator Amy Klobuchar asked him about him ever blacking out while drunk, he fired back asking if she ever had, not attempting initially to answer the question.

This, combined with the irrational display of anger by Senator Lindsey Graham all was telling of the fact that this was certainly one of the most important days in Senate confirmation hearing history.

And so we finally get to Friday, where right down party lines, 11–10, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move forward to a vote for Judge Kavanaugh. But, in a sudden change of pace, Senator Jeff Flake proclaimed that he would vote yes to the motion to vote so long as there was a thorough FBI investigation that would take place over the next week, delaying the vote. Whether it was to save his lobbying prospects after he leaves the Senate, or whether it was to assure that Kavanaugh did not do anything he was accused of, the nation is waiting for the FBI to, hopefully, figure this out.

We’re waiting. But back to my earlier question. Let’s set aside Clarence Thomas for a second, who’s confirmation most certainly warrants a whole other blog post, and let’s look at the court’s perspective on this. One could argue that some justices are appalled with these hearings, in both directions. As much as I believe that Judge Roberts has made some terrible decisions over the past couple years, for me most notably him striking down the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he does care about his reputation and the public perception of the court. That’s why the ACA wasn’t voted unconstitutional. Having a justice as divisive as Kavanaugh on the Court could not only hamper his court’s reputation, but it could motivate the country to drastically swing left both in the midterms and in 2020, facing off directly against the court.

Hypothetically, if I were a conservative, the risk is too great. Regardless of whether or not Kavanaugh is guilty of these allegations, which based on all current signs are most likely true, he hurts the conservative agenda at this moment. His confirmation, from both sides, is making the court even more partisan than it already is, especially when Kavanaugh went all after left-wing groups in his statement on Thursday. The best case scenario is to just to walk away from him and pick a new candidate for the court. The worst case? The allegations are true, he does not get confirmed, and in a demonstration of power, Democrats reclaim both the House and Senate, and no one is confirmed by January.

I’m going to say that, although for bad reasons, the court is at least in the spotlight. These nominations are so powerful, and who knows, maybe the lifetime appointment is not a good idea? I don’t know for sure, but that will be a post for another day. I’ll see you all next week…


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