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Ginsburg: We thought 'boys will be boys'

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg voices her support for the #MeToo movement ahead of testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

Posted: Sep 28, 2018 8:31 AM
Updated: Sep 28, 2018 8:34 AM

Judge Brett Kavanaugh delivered the angriest partisan message heard from a Supreme Court nominee in modern times.

Referring to sexual assault claims made against him by Christine Blasey Ford, he asserted his innocence and then attacked Democrats.

"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups," Kavanaugh said.

The judge who previously served as a top aide to President George W. Bush and worked for independent counsel Ken Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton tossed aside his earlier judicious language of neutrality.

His declaration was the product of his personal anger, to be sure, and the move of a nominee whose professional and personal fate was on the line. But the result -- of his rhetoric and the overall tenor of the nomination -- means he could forever be marked as a politician on the bench rather than a neutral jurist.

His language provided a striking departure from the usual "judges as umpires" that Kavanaugh, and Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005, had invoked. Justice Neil Gorsuch, during his 2017 confirmation hearing, contended that, "There is no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge. We just have judges in this country."

Kavanaugh's approach may also have validated Roberts' oft-expressed fear that the public will believe any nominee who emerges from a politically charged confirmation process would necessarily be a political justice.

Roberts and other justices regularly complain about commentary that casts them as political operators. It is hard to avoid such conclusions when the justices often split 5-4, the five Republican appointees against the four Democratic appointees.

Just last term, the conservative majority issued a string of narrow rulings that reinforced political perceptions, siding often with the Trump administration and culminating the annual session with a decision that undercut the power of labor unions and reversed a four-decade old Supreme Court precedent.

Before the justices had left the bench that June 27 morning, Trump had tweeted, "Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats."

The case of Bush v. Gore, arising from the 2000 disputed Florida election counts, likely is the most deeply etched political case in the national memory. The court favored Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore, along 5-4 ideological lines.

The country has seen other politically incendiary Supreme Court fights in recent decades, notably Judge Robert Bork's defeat in 1987 and Justice Clarence Thomas' narrow confirmation in 1991. But neither of those came down to strictly partisan votes, with all Democrats on one side and all Republicans on the other.

This time, a purely partisan split is a real possibility, in the 51-49 Republican-controlled Senate. (Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee, won confirmation with all Republican and three Democratic senators in 2017, although Republicans did away with the 60-vote threshold that ended the ability of Democrats to filibuster the nomination.)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who in 1993 was confirmed by a 96-3 vote, often laments the faded bipartisanship.

"The way it was, was right," she said earlier this month. "The way it is, is wrong. I wish I could wave a magic wand and have it go back the way it was."

If Kavanaugh, who has been a judge for 12 years on a prominent Washington-based US appeals court, is confirmed for elevation, he may take steps to try to heal the divide. Or he may be scarred by the allegations that he said have ruined his life. (He said he believed that Democrats were "lying in wait" with Ford's claim that he attacked her when they were teens until it was nearly time for his confirmation vote.)

In January 2006, Justice Samuel Alito, a George W. Bush nominee facing a Republican-controlled Senate was confirmed 58-42 along largely, but not completely, partisan lines.

Yet he found the process so unsettling that he later complained he disliked walking in front of the Senate Hart Office Building where his hearings were held. He said he crossed to the other side of the street.

Kavanaugh, for his part, warned the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, that the political atmosphere is always changing.

"As we all know, in United States political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 327477

Reported Deaths: 3751
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin688981130
Ramsey28948512
Anoka23196232
Dakota23102194
Washington14590120
Stearns14314121
St. Louis9280117
Scott881056
Wright827145
Olmsted702536
Sherburne608243
Clay521359
Carver501315
Kandiyohi432024
Rice427738
Blue Earth426617
Crow Wing376237
Otter Tail332725
Chisago326914
Benton317253
Nobles313731
Winona292031
Douglas278439
Mower270623
Polk266226
Morrison241730
Lyon228712
Beltrami227518
McLeod226517
Becker217619
Goodhue216930
Steele20568
Itasca202223
Isanti199517
Carlton198417
Todd187414
Nicollet169426
Mille Lacs161231
Freeborn15966
Le Sueur153511
Brown151015
Cass149910
Pine14298
Waseca141811
Meeker139011
Roseau12475
Martin121221
Hubbard117728
Wabasha11041
Redwood101720
Chippewa9508
Cottonwood9284
Renville92729
Dodge9110
Watonwan8824
Wadena8537
Sibley8194
Rock8019
Aitkin79530
Houston7694
Fillmore7480
Pipestone74718
Kanabec67714
Yellow Medicine67612
Pennington6758
Swift6149
Murray6064
Faribault5902
Pope5641
Clearwater5389
Stevens5333
Marshall5289
Jackson5181
Lake4437
Wilkin4115
Koochiching4106
Lac qui Parle3984
Unassigned38259
Lincoln3721
Norman3638
Big Stone3332
Mahnomen3164
Grant2956
Kittson2408
Red Lake2283
Traverse1521
Lake of the Woods1021
Cook790

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 234817

Reported Deaths: 2486
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34631341
Linn14655168
Scott1166189
Black Hawk11194139
Woodbury10622133
Johnson979337
Dubuque941594
Story698323
Pottawattamie664871
Dallas657159
Sioux380529
Webster371639
Cerro Gordo367649
Marshall357647
Clinton341444
Buena Vista313114
Des Moines298621
Muscatine298271
Warren291714
Plymouth284444
Wapello263772
Jones235917
Jasper229746
Lee225617
Marion210222
Carroll203624
Bremer200212
Henry19137
Crawford181016
Benton174023
Tama156641
Washington149715
Jackson148814
Delaware147021
Dickinson143811
Boone142412
Mahaska133328
Wright13007
Clay12254
Buchanan122010
Hardin121011
Hamilton117713
Page11664
Kossuth11608
Clayton11399
Cedar112513
Harrison110832
Floyd110219
Calhoun10907
Fayette108712
Mills10858
Lyon10619
Butler10576
Winneshiek102713
Poweshiek102013
Iowa100213
Winnebago94825
Cherokee9474
Chickasaw9084
Hancock9008
Sac8978
Louisa89321
Grundy88911
Allamakee87013
Mitchell8369
Cass83524
Union8166
Appanoose80713
Humboldt8015
Shelby79511
Emmet78626
Guthrie77115
Franklin76021
Jefferson7512
Madison7174
Unassigned7050
Palo Alto6734
Keokuk6477
Pocahontas5984
Howard5809
Osceola5411
Greene5401
Ida53013
Clarke5004
Montgomery49311
Davis4819
Taylor4773
Monona4516
Monroe45113
Adair4489
Worth3820
Van Buren3755
Fremont3743
Lucas3376
Decatur3290
Wayne3077
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Ringgold2382
Adams1792
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