Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said this after the bitter confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh: “I would like to have the future of mending things.” Who knows whatever the hell that actually means, because it sure as hell didn’t mean operating in good faith.
That much was clear when he announced that the committee was going to be conducting two more sessions for multiple judges during the pre-election recess period. That’s after Democrats negotiated a deal, specifically to allow the Senate to recess last week, to confirm 15 judges without a fight.
“If there was ever any hope that after the Kavanaugh experience we could return to bipartisanship on the Senate Judiciary Committee, it was shaken this morning,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told The New York Times in an interview Wednesday, the day of the first hearing. That’s only in part because one of the nominees is 36-year-old Allison Rushing, an important circuit court nominee who clerked for both Justice Clarence Thomas and for Neil Gorsuch when he was on a lower court. She has not been admitted to the bar in her own home state of North Carolina. She doesn’t meet the American Bar Association’s general requirement for a recommendation (12 years of practicing law or of legal experience). She’s only been allowed to practice in the appeals court circuit that she’s been nominated to in the past year.
Democrats boycotted the hearing, which they might have well had since their presence wouldn’t have made a damned bit of difference. And that allowed them to not be present to hear shit like Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch tell Rushing that “I’m very proud of you.” Only one Republican senator present, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, expressed any concern about the fact that Rushing was being nominated for a lifetime appointment when she has essentially zero relevant experience. But the Federalist Society loves her, largely because she helped the Alliance Defending Freedom, which took the lead in helping bigot baker Jack Phillips, who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
The whole exercise of having these hearings, not to mention the nominees themselves, “is a travesty,” said Nan Aron, founder and president of the Alliance for Justice. “It’s a stealth effort to confirm a nominee who might not withstand the scrutiny of the full committee.” It’s not even really a stealth effort. It’s a brazen ‘fuck you’ to Democrats, to the institution of the Senate, to the federal judiciary, and finally, to the Constitution. That’s just how Grassley and his boss, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, roll.