Friday, September 28, 2018

High-Tech Lynchings Then and Now

Uncredited photo from a post by BJ's Mistermix, April 2014 (he said it was Andrew Sullivan and Conor Friedersdorf, but I think that must be some of that satire).

Steven Roberts/New York Times, 8 November 1987:

Under enormous pressure from Administration officials and his own conservative supporters on Capitol Hill, Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg today asked President Reagan to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court.
The judge announced his decision only nine days after he was chosen to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. He acted after disclosures about his personal and ethical conduct stirred a storm of criticism.
The disclosures, which culminated Thursday with Judge Ginsburg's admission that he had smoked marijuana several times, embarrassed Mr. Reagan, who had called his confirmation ''vitally important to the fight against crime.'' 
It was the media that sunk Ginsburg—I didn't remember that. He was outed by Nina Totenberg of NPR (who had weekly lunches, still does for all I know, with that Times reporter's spouse, Cokie Roberts, and Linda Wertheimer). There was a bipartisan outcry from the nation's young  potheads, from Claiborne Pell (D-RI) to Newton LeRoy Gingrich (R-GA), including potential presidential candidates Bruce Babbitt and Al Gore, but fearful conservatives begged him to withdraw (he was also accused of "handling a cable television case when he was an investor in a cable company" as a DOJ official, which looks practically innocent by today's Republican standards), and he did, and the nominator named Anthony Kennedy to be vitally important to the fight against crime instead.

Hey, it was a simpler time.

That was of course a month after the nomination of Robert Bork collapsed over real issues—Bork's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which he referred to as as based on "a principle of unsurpassed ugliness" and to the 1965 Griswold decision guaranteeing the right of married couples to use birth control, which he said was "utterly specious" and "a time bomb"; and his insistence that the First Amendment protected only political speech and didn't apply to "any other form of expression, be it scientific, literary or that variety of expression we call obscene or pornographic". Conservatives who are still steaming over this 31-year-old injustice, like Orrin Hatch in yesterday's hearing

I hate to say this, but this is worse than Robert Bork, and I didn’t think it could get any worse than that. This is worse than Clarence Thomas. I didn’t think it could get any worse than that. This is a national disgrace, the way you’re being treated.
would do well to remember how off the wall he was. Bork objected to the idea that women should be regarded as having equal protection under the 14th Amendment, and believed (re Bowers, 1986, overruled at last in Lawrence 2003) that the Texas legislature had a "right" to ban homosexual conduct on the grounds that "I am dubious about making homosexual conduct criminal, but I favor even less imposing rules upon the American people that have no basis other than the judge’s morality."

Where by "the American people" he means the members of state legislatures who want to impose rules upon the communities they "represent" that have no basis other than etc. Or does Hatch still think all that would have been good for the Court?

Bork honestly said what he believed, and the Senate couldn't confirm him because his views were so far off the mainstream. Clarence Thomas, who began the tendency of refusing to say what he believed
Under questioning during confirmation hearings, Thomas repeatedly asserted that he had not formulated a position on Roe v. Wade, or had any conversations with anyone regarding the issue.[25]
—is a more appropriate comparison to Brett Kavanaugh than Bork or Ginsburg, neither of whom ever claimed to have been murdered by the confirmation process, which Thomas memorably did when he called it a "high-tech lynching", although rather than being killed and hung on a tree by a crowd of jeering rednecks he was in fact elevated to the nation's highest court, where he still sits. Yesterday Kavanaugh said,
In those 10 long days, as was predictable, and as I predicted, my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations. The 10-day delay has been harmful to me and my family, to the Supreme Court and to the country.
As I listened, I really thought this was a bitter, self-pitying withdrawal: "You won't have Brett Kavanaugh to kick around any more." But then it turned out he wasn't totally and permanently destroyed at all. It was just another one of the many things he was lying about.

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