We Went Through Hell For Kennedy II

We Went Through Hell For Kennedy II October 6, 2018

The other day, I was FaceBook PM’ing back and forth with a very good friend of mine about all this. We compared theories and hot takes. We told each other exactly what we thought, the way very good friends do. We didn’t agree or disagree 100%. At the end of the day, I signed off: “I am so ready for this to be over.” She messaged me back: “You and me both.”

According to my social media feeds, I should be overcome with hysteria or euphoria right now, depending on which letter is on my voter ID. Believe it or not, there is a reaction icon for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh that falls somewhere in between “screaming gutturally” (really) and doing the cha-cha. I’m having trouble coming up with a pithy way to describe it though. How do you describe that dull, flat feeling you get when you’re supposed to feel something, but you don’t?

Perhaps the simplest way to express it is that I’m tired. I’m almost too tired to write this post. I’d rather be sleeping than blogging right now, about anything, but especially about this. But in this moment, there are just a few things that need to be said. Things that other outlets, including outlets I have written for, probably won’t say (they’re currently doing the cha-cha). Things that some people who read this post will not understand. But some of you will. This is for you.

Let me get this out of the way first: This is not about what Brett Kavanaugh may or may not have done to Christine Blasey Ford in high school. My own thoughts on the matter would probably annoy almost everybody, so I’m not going to write a hot take for the sole purpose of annoying almost everybody. I leave that to others.

The one thing I can un-controversially say is that this entire process has been a circus of the most ghastly, bitter partisan variety. Slightly more controversially, I refuse to say “A pox on both your houses!” and pretend that the most ghastly behavior hasn’t come consistently from Democrats. Many of us watched Susan Collins’s blistering take-down of whoever first leaked Blasey Ford’s letter to Feinstein. It was epic, and I have nothing to add. Susan Collins is right. So was Lindsey Graham (who knew?)

In sum, it’s been hell. We went through hell to get to where we are now. So where are we now, again?

Susan Collins reminds us:

There has… been considerable focus on the future of abortion rights based on the concern that Judge Kavanaugh would seek to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Protecting this right is important to me. To my knowledge, Judge Kavanaugh is the first Supreme Court nominee to express the view that precedent is not merely a practice and tradition, but rooted in Article III of our constitution itself. He believes that precedent is not just a judicial policy, it is constitutionally dictated to pay attention and pay heed to rules of precedent. In other words, precedent isn’t a goal or an aspiration. It is a constitutional tenet that has to be followed except in the most extraordinary circumstances. The judge further explained that precedent provides stability, predictability, reliance and fairness…As the judge asserted to me, a long-established precedent is not something to be trimmed, narrowed, or overlooked…In short, his views on honoring precedent would preclude attempts to do by stealth that which one has committed not to do overtly.

Noting that Roe v. Wade  was decided 45 years ago and reaffirmed 19 years later in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, I asked Judge Kavanaugh whether the passage of time is relevant to following precedent. He said decisions become part of our legal framework with the passage of time, and that honoring precedent is essential to maintaining public confidence… Finally, in his testimony he noted repeatedly that Roe had been upheld by Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, describing it as “precedent on precedent.” When I asked him “Would it be sufficient to overturn a long established precedent if five current justices believed that it was wrongly decided?” he emphatically said, “No.”

Collins goes on to discuss the now going on 40-year-old tradition of making the pledge to nominate anti-Roe justices a plank in Republican presidential campaigns. She then reminds us with great relish of the fact which has haunted pro-lifers for lo these many decades: that justices O’Connor, Souter and Kennedy were all Republican appointees, and that all three co-authored the Casey decision reaffirming Roe. “Suffice it to say,” she twists the knife, “prominent advocacy organizations have been wrong.”

But we can rest assured that Judge Kavanaugh is not here to do “the bidding” of “conservative ideologues.” For Collins, and, she judges, for Kavanaugh as well, Roe does not qualify as one of those “rare, extraordinary” cases of a “grievously wrong decision” that must be overturned. Grievous wrongs such as Plessy vs. Ferguson, for example. Because clearly, separating black children from white children in schools after they’re born is a grievous wrong. But separating black children from the wombs of their mothers before they’re born, well, that’s just a very personal choice.

Judge Kavanaugh is not here to take away your choice, Collins soothes. Of course he’s not. What sort of spittle-flecked, raving right-wing lunatic did you take him for? He falls well within “the legal mainstream.” Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg said so. You can take that to the bank, America.

I said I wasn’t feeling anything. Maybe I lied. Maybe I am feeling something. Maybe I am angry. Deep, seething, boiling anger, mixed with grief. Grief for how the moral and legal abomination that was Roe vs. Wade has become so ossified in America’s collective unconscious that men of decent character and sharp mind can no longer see it for what it is. Or perhaps they can. But perhaps they won’t.

And so it has come to this. So we have slogged through mud and slime, so we have crawled over broken glass, to this. So we have come to the bitter truth that dare not be uttered out loud. The bitter, bitter truth that we sacrificed everything, and all we got was Kennedy II.



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  • William Luse

    I guess I’m required to hope that you’re wrong. Problem is, I feel the same way. Now we wait.

  • Tom Christian

    Putting hope in the SCOTUS to end abortion is extremely misplaced. Babies are not made safer by putting women at risk by over-turning Roe.

    Even if we were to successfully overturn Roe v
    Wade, the matter would only be sent back to the states, over half of
    which would keep abortion legal. That’s not an honest win to anyone who
    is serious about being pro-life. At best, it would
    serve as a nice symbolic victory, but it wouldn’t address the actual
    reasons that women give for terminating a (usually unexpected)
    pregnancy, which—as I’ve pointed out in a previous post—are primarily:

    ∙ Dramatic change in life, including potential job loss, and/or concern over other children or dependents.

    ∙ Financial instability, including a lack of access to childcare and/or healthcare.

    Or in other words: no money, no healthcare, no support, and fear.

    What restrictive legislation has attempted to
    address these issues? What is to become of these women in a post-Roe
    world? Have we actually considered these questions? Have we honestly
    weighed the consequences? Or have we been so busy opposing
    the politicians and activists who support abortion that we’ve ignored
    the women who are actually having them?

    We have to think deeper. We can sit here and talk
    about oughts, and rights, and sexual morality until we’re blue in the
    face, but if we want to make any real progress, we have to face up to
    the fact that most of the women having abortions
    aren’t privileged, liberal femi-nazis. They’re women in poverty who
    feel like they don’t have another option. The fear of not being able to
    provide for the child, of losing their job, of not having access to
    proper healthcare, or of not having a support system
    is painfully coercive. And if we’re going call ourselves pro-life,
    that’s where we need to focus our attention.

    Make no mistake: I live for the day that abortion
    is eradicated from our world. But the Supreme Court is not an effective
    means for achieving this goal. It’s time for those of us in the pro-life
    movement to refocus our strategy, do away
    with idea that the GOP is the party of life, and start providing
    comprehensive solutions that address real needs instead of chasing our
    tails in a continuous circle.

    What is it they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?


  • camainc

    I’m afraid you’re right. I only hope the next one will be a true moral conservative. It’s probably too much to hope for, though. I do think he’s probably much better than anyone Hillary Clinton would have nominated.

  • ollie

    A far bigger problem with Kavanaugh then either the sexual issues or abortion is his seeming support of big business and big government. Esp his belief that a sitting president can do no wrong. And this is where I believe that the Republican Party followers really sold out their stated beliefs.

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