History was made last month as Brett Kavanaugh overcame an unimaginable smear campaign to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. For the first time in decades, this nomination brought with it the possibility of returning to a truly constitutionalist court.
Someday, years from now when Americans look back on this moment, I hope they see more than Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. I hope, in a country raw and torn apart, they see a little girl, asking her parents if they should “pray for the woman” whose allegations fueled a political war that would turn their family’s proudest moment into one of its darkest chapters. I hope they see a broken political process. Most of all, I hope they see a turning point in a nation that desperately needs one.
Unfortunately for Brett Kavanaugh, it may be years before what he does on the federal bench finally overshadows what the Kavanaughs endured in a very broken, corrupted Supreme Court nomination process. For Brett and his family, these are scars he’ll carry with him the rest of his life. But in a country where the majority of Americans can’t even name a single Supreme Court justice, this may have been exactly the wake-up call we needed.
For the first time in a long time, millions of people stopped what they were doing and watched—on planes, in bars, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Every single one of them saw for themselves the embarrassment this process has become. For once, Americans understood how far the liberal establishment was willing to go—and how many lives it was willing to ruin—to keep its grip on the courts. They watched a broken system that puts its trust in a place the founders never intended. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll decide to do something about it.
As hellacious as it was, the ordeal may have been the tipping point in a decades-long battle to hold Congress accountable. After all, it’s their fault the courts have so much power to begin with. As Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) lamented, “When we don’t do a lot of big political debating here in Congress, we transfer it to the Supreme Court. And that’s why the court is increasingly a substitute political battleground. … It’s only nine people. You can know them; you can demonize them; you can try to make them messiahs.” But you can’t fire them. And what happens? They become “super-legislators [trying] to right the wrongs from other places in the process.”
We used to be a country that arrived at consensus through the legislative system. Not anymore. The court short-circuited that process with the help of 535 people too concerned about keeping their jobs to do them. “The solution,” Sasse points out, “is not to try to find judges who will be policymakers or to turn the Supreme Court into an election battle. The solution is to restore a proper constitutional order with the balance of powers. We need a Congress that writes laws, then stands before the people and faces the consequences.”
Until then, we’re destined to repeat the disgrace we witnessed. Imagine what the people on President Trump’s (or any future president’s) Supreme Court short list must be thinking, watching a pillar of the legal community destroyed on national television for an accusation not a single person has corroborated. Are they scouring their high school yearbooks and diaries, wondering what could be used to demolish them? It’s no wonder Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) couldn’t sit quiet any longer. His passionate, impromptu speech—maybe one of the greatest the chamber has ever heard—should have snapped everyone back to the personal and institutional damage that had been done.
“What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that. Not me,” Graham said.
“I’d never do to them what you’ve done to this guy. This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. … I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through.”
Acknowledging that Ford was also a victim in the process, Graham told Kavanaugh, “When it comes to this, [if] you’re looking for a fair process, you came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend. To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.”
Kavanaugh’s opponents wanted you to believe that the FBI could have rolled in with their forensic trucks and found out what really happened that summer day of 1982. That their agents, through a power no one’s heard of, could have discovered something this committee hadn’t. That’s absurd. The two most important witnesses were testifying right in front of them, under oath. For liberals, the endgame was always to delay in hopes of kicking the confirmation vote into next year.
But unfortunately, this was never about getting to the truth. This was about getting to the courts, the last best hope for the liberal agenda. All we can hope now—not just for Brett, but for his wife, Ashley, their girls and his parents—is that this horrible ordeal becomes a galvanizing moment for America. That we refuse to let what happened to them happen again. And that the legacy of Kavanaugh is a more civil process for everyone. ©2018 Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. This article first appeared in the Tony Perkins’ Washington Update newsletter.