Background Briefing: September 27, 2018


A Report from a Prominent Lawyer Who Attended Today’s Hearing

We begin with today’s contentious hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee at which Judge Kavanaugh’s first accuser Dr. Blasey Ford testified followed by Trump’s embattled nominee for the Supreme Court. We begin with Kristen Clarke, the President and Executive Director of the National Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who joins us to discuss what seemed to be two entirely different hearing, the first half of which was calm and composed and the second half of which was turbulent and emotional with Judge Kavanaugh shouting between tears, fighting to save his reputation. We assess whether the Republicans were able to turn things around after Dr. Ford’s very credible testimony as they indignantly blamed everything on Senator Feinstein for allegedly leaking a letter and delaying the hearings while they avoided any mention of the main issue at hand which is whether or not Judge Kavanaugh engaged in sexual assault of three women and lied about it.


Can We Pretend the Judicial Branch Is Independent and Non-Partisan?

Then we examine the whole process of the Senate confirmation of federal judges and the extent to which we can no longer pretend that the judicial branch is independent and non-partisan. Paul Collins, Director and Professor of Legal Studies in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and co-author of “Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings and Constitutional Change” joins us. With judicial confirmations descending into partisan brawls starting with the Bork hearings, then the Thomas-Anita Hill hearings and now today’s drama, we will assess what possible path there is forward to restore dignity and respect for our courts.


The Opposite of a Judicial Temperament Was on Display Today

Then finally we speak with Aya Gruber,Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School who has written widely on rape law and domestic violence reform and has a forthcoming book “The Feminist War on Crime”. She joins us to discuss which one of the witnesses today displayed a judicial temperament after Dr. Ford showed quiet poise and restraint while Brett Kavanaugh went on a wild rant blaming his predicament on the revenge of the Clinton’s while wallowing in a “woe is me” tearful indignation as he exhibited a burning partisan contempt for the Democratic senators. The question then arises what kind of a judge would Kavanaugh be on the Supreme Court and what kind of treatment a Democrat appearing before him should expect.