Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Road to the Supreme Court Spurs Controversy

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After much controversy during his confirmation hearing, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the 144th court justice on Oct. 6, 2018.

Initially, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) did not accept the request by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) to have the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh investigated by the FBI.

McConnell penned a letter claiming that involving a federal investigation “would be unprecedented and irregular.” He asserted the procedure of vetting and confirming a Supreme Court justice was governed by a Memorandum of Understanding. The MOU:

Provides that designated and appropriately cleared staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are authorized to brief Members of the Senate on the results of BIs.

In the same letter, McConnell complained that the Democrats simply wanted to stall Kavanaugh’s confirmation. He said he feels that the Democratic party have undoubtedly been following through on their plans to delay.

McConnell further asserted that the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has professionally and punctually investigated every credible last-minute allegation against Kavanaugh. McConnell claims he also checked every incredible accusation.

CNN reported that Grassley is the first Senator that read the FBI investigation summaries. He was then followed by Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.).

A Previous Controversial Supreme Court Nominee

Late former-President Ronald Reagan had the opportunity to appoint a third Supreme Court Justice during his second term. Unlike Reagan’s first two nominees who sailed through this confirmation hearings, the third confirmation did not go smoothly.

In 1987, Reagan nominated Robert Bork to replace the seat vacated by Judge Lewis F. Powell Jr. who became an Associate Justice after his nomination by former-President Richard Nixon. Bork had been a federal appeals court judge during the previous five years.

Bork’s controversial political writings and personal beliefs on Civil Rights legislation. His cases that concerned privacy policies, caused House and Senate Democrats, led by former-Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) to act against his nomination.

Kennedy and other Congressional Democrats feared that Bork’s confirmation would shift the court to the right.  On the Senate Floor Kennedy asserted that people of color would once again be forced to sit in segregated lunch corridors, women would be forced to visit back-alley abortionists, and evolution would not be taught in schools.

In the last hundred years, Democrats held power in Congress twice as long as the Republicans. In 1987, they successfully blocked Bork’s confirmation 58-42, thanks to their dominance.

The failed confirmation spawned a new derogatory term used by Republican and Democrats alike. Borking is used in reference to the act of vigorously questioning the political ideology of a Supreme Court nominee in order to derail the confirmation.

By John A. Federico
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


Fox News: McConnell denies Schumer’s request for FBI briefing on Kavanaugh probe
CNN: Senators to start reading FBI report Thursday morning
History.com: How Robert Bork’s Failed Nomination Led to a Changed Supreme Court
The Wall Street Journal: Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation Battle Tests Supreme Court’s Chief Justice

Top Image Courtesy of angela n.’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License