Due to personal circumstances, I’m a little behind here, and feel the need to comment on the once sober process of picking fit candidates to ascend to the nation’s highest court, to a lifetime appointment that can’t be rescinded. Once placed, no justice has ever been impeached, meaning that beyond war powers, it’s about the most important thing the U.S. Senate, once “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” does. (Obviously besides the nonstop fundraising to ensure they leave the chamber feet first. After all, it’s a cherry gig with incredible perks and benefits.)
Regarding the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questioning of our newest Supreme Court justice, you really got to see who they are.
Josh Hawley (R-QAnon) advanced the built-for-fundraising theory that senior Dems are child “groomers” and abusers. (I put the word “groomers” in quotes because it’s the latest invention in the never ending parade of derogatory words far-right extremists have landed on—likely through thorough focus group testing. I used to do that for a living, so I speak from a somewhat knowledgeable perch when discussing messaging, meaning, and particularly discipline, which Republicans have in spades, and the Dems have not at all. Why do think Will Rogers, when asked if he belonged to an organized political party, replied, “No, I’m a Democrat”?)
So here was Hawley spewing nonsense, quoting directly from some crazy QAnon stuff that is so specious in its complete suspension of disbelief and un-seriousness, that, diverging from my normal practice, I’ll not even link to it here. Even I have limits. Suffice to say Hawley led the way for his co-conspiracy theorists by using the well-researched word “grooming” in the context of depraved sexual activity. He was trying, for purposes of fundraising, to make it appear that a respectable federal judge, a married mother of two daughters, condones the grooming of children for purposes of sexual exploitation—a sentence that is too nice by half, for it sanitizes both the accuser and his words, both of which are despicable.
Thankfully, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Decency) chided Hawley for the transparency of his motives, and his general rhetorical recklessness.
Ted Cruz (R-Cancun) continued to demonstrate why he is the most reviled person in the Senate. Even his colleagues won’t have lunch with him. Or, as former senator Al Franken wrote, “Here’s the thing you have to understand about Ted Cruz: I like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.”
Right on cue, Cruz picked up the “grooming” theme and grilled Judge Katanji Brown Jackson like he was a chef at Outback and she was a Bloomin’ Onion. Refusing to accept any answer except the one he was trying to back her into, his prosecution turned into bumbling farce worthy of Inspector Clouseau. Like the others of his ilk, he tried—in front of her husband and daughters (for like the others, he has no shame)—to take her completely unremarkable sentencing in various sex crimes trials, and make her out to be Caligula. It was funny when Peter Sellers did it; wretched when Ted Cruz did.
Marsha Blackburn (R-1854) tried to play gotcha, but never really got out of the starting blocks. She tried to trap the judge by demanding to know what her definition of “woman” is. This, in an all too obvious attempt to taint her as too forgiving of LGBT+ and other minorities. Who knows what Blackburn actually believes, but this was cynicism plunged to new depths. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to know that Tennesseans will be subjected to an avalanche slick TV ads in which the good senator vanquishes the evil, sexually depraved mother of daughters.
Was it fundraising or point scoring, and why must it be one or the other when it seemed to be both? So many falsehoods that all turned not on facts, but on inuendo. They tried to make her appear soft on crime, and to be clear, not run-of-the-mill criminal activity, but the worst kind: child exploitation. These attacks lacked credibility on their face, and get even more absurd when you consider that her family “business” is law enforcement. Her brother is an Army vet turned cop and her uncles were policemen, with one them being a successful chief of the Miami, Florida police department in the Nineties.
Here were the right wing extremists who all voted for appellate judges who meted out the same sentences for sex crimes, but couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Katanji Brown Jackson again, like they did two years ago when they put her on the federal bench in the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit.
The hypocrisy is cringe worthy, but it seems to have an audience—and a life of its own.
2022 Jon Sinton
VOL. 112, NO. 15 - April 13, 2022