The Left Hasn’t Given Up on Smearing Justice Brett Kavanaugh

COMMENTARY Courts

The Left Hasn’t Given Up on Smearing Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Jan 2nd, 2019 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Thomas Jipping

Deputy Director, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

Thomas is the Deputy Director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and a Senior Legal Fellow.
This ongoing attack not only undermines the public’s trust in the judiciary, it also distorts and weakens the process for identifying genuine instances of judicial misconduct. Win McNamee Xinhua News Agency/Newscom

Campaigning for Barry Goldwater days before the 1964 presidential election, former President Ronald Reagan said that “the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.” Even so, liberals are masters of snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat.

Case in point, the Left tried three strategies to derail the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

They tried "Guilt by Association," ignoring Kavanaugh’s own stellar qualifications and treating him as a proxy for the president they so loathe.

They tried "The Setup," making demands they knew could not be met, such as confidential records about the internal workings of the George W. Bush administration or Kavanaugh’s views about precedents or issues that would come before him on the Supreme Court. No administration would divulge such information, and no nominee would offer such views. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in 1994 that doing so would “show disdain for the entire judicial process.”

Most famously, they tried "The Big Sex Smear," promoting unsubstantiated claims that Kavanaugh committed sexual improprieties in high school and college. The Senate Judiciary Committee, New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker, Atlantic, NBC, and the FBI investigated and found nothing. The Left, however, cared far less about the truthfulness of the accusations than it did about the mere fact that they were made. Kavanaugh, they said, was guilty until proven innocent.

Ultimately, these three strategies failed to keep Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court. Thus, the Left shifted to Plan B: discrediting his service.

The Left seeks a politically correct judiciary, one populated by judges for whom the political ends justify the judicial means. These activist judges serve certain political interests even when the law doesn’t.

Judges such as Kavanaugh do the opposite, applying the law impartially so that the law, and not politics, decides their cases. The Left simply can’t risk that because, more often than not, it won’t get what it wants. So even if it can’t keep a judge like Kavanaugh off the bench, it will sow seeds of distrust and distaste so that people will forever question the judge’s future decisions.

Which brings us to the Left’s latest gambit. Its minions filed 83 complaints of “judicial misconduct” against Kavanaugh, most focusing on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Sept. 27 hearing on The Big Sex Smear. Federal law, however, allows such complaints only about “a circuit judge, district judge, bankruptcy, or magistrate judge.” Kavanaugh is none of those, so the complaints were dismissed.

As with The Big Sex Smear, however, it is more important for the Left that these complaints are made than that they be legitimate. Remember, the ends justify the means. Now, when Kavanaugh votes or writes an opinion in a way the Left doesn’t like, it will say, "Yeah, but he’s the one who had those misconduct complaints, remember?”

A brief look at these “complaints” exposes a coordinated and planned campaign: an orchestrated political hit.

Some complaints have nothing to do with Kavanaugh at all. One complainant says that former President Barack Obama fired him from “many jobs” and that Republican and Democratic “criminal senators” are trying to “criminalize the court system.” Another suggests reforms in the process of filing judicial misconduct complaints.

Some of the complaints say nothing more than Kavanaugh “lied during testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.” Another says simply that Kavanaugh’s “actions and statements” during that hearing are “prima facie evidence of a clear violation of judicial ethics. He should be suspended!” Three complaints are identical: “Please fully investigate the testimony he has given to the Senate.” Not much to go on there.

One complaint claims that Kavanaugh committed perjury on “many occasions” and, as evidence, offered links to articles in Mother Jones, Slate, and Gentlemen’s Quarterly.

Several complaints include the identical six-paragraph rant about Kavanaugh’s testimony, followed by identical citations to nine provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. These complainants, who live from Maryland to Oregon, each declared “under penalty of perjury” that the “facts alleged within are my own personal knowledge based on my viewing of the hearing.”

What are the odds that each of these complainants, independently, had precisely the same six-paragraph recollection of that hearing? Or that these complainants would (again, independently) each misspell Kavanaugh’s name in the same way as "Cavanaugh"?

If you believe any of that that, I have some ocean-front property in Utah for sale.

Seven of the complaints are postcards, identical down to their blue and red lettering, objecting that Kavanaugh “behave[d] disrespectfully towards Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

To call this reckless harassment is to give reckless harassment a bad name. This ongoing attack not only undermines the public’s trust in the judiciary, it also distorts and weakens the process for identifying genuine instances of judicial misconduct.

This piece originally appeared in The Washington Examiner