I had to turn off the Senate hearing on the allegations of sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Watching the hearing, I felt that I was witnessing a nation ripping itself apart and the demise of the rule of law that ensures the freedom of America.
When Kennedy announced his retirement, I wrote a blog post with the title of “Shitstorm at the Supreme Court”. In hindsight, that title was a huge understatement.
I started my law career as a defense attorney, and I’ve represented those accused of sexual offenses and I know all too well how emotionally grinding those cases are for the lawyers involved, much less the victims or the accused. On social media, I see many of my friends denouncing Rachell Mitchell as she questions witnesses and I want to defend her because I’ve been her and I have had to cross examine victims of sexual assault. I know how painful it was for me and how terribly conflicted it left me feeling no matter how humane I tried to be while also giving my client the zealous representation necessary in criminal defense. I don’t have as much sympathy for the politicians from both parties who are turning this hearing into a spectacle and blatantly using it for political gain.
I believe we are better off with the rule of law and civil trials than vigilante justice, so when I cross examine a victim of a crime, I tell myself that I am not only protecting the defendant, but the greater good. I believe we are all freer when the State has to prove ever single element of a crime before it can take our freedom and our reputations. One of the major reasons I left criminal law was having to cross examine an 8-year-old victim who told inconsistent stories and had accused several other innocent people of abusing him.
It is my hope that Judge Kavanaugh will withdraw his nomination, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I want him to withdraw because he is too polarizing a figure to sit on the Court at this point. I fear that, if he is seated, there will be a great loss of faith in the Supreme Court and that court has to be much greater than any individual. People give their lives to protect the rule of law in our country. Asking one very fortunate and privileged man to step aside in order to preserve the public’s respect for the Court is not too much to ask.
As I watch this hearing, I can’t help but feel that the future of the country is at stake. I don’t mean who controls Congress or who sits on the Court, but whether we can continue to function as a democracy and as a nation. We must find a way to step back from the intense partisan warfare that began on talk radio before jumping onto the internet and spreading like a disease through American society destroying communities, friendships, and even family relationships. As I wrote in earlier post, democracy requires forbearance and restraint. Just because you can pack the Court with Judges who terrify your political opponents or refuse to hold a hearing on a nominee from an opposing party president, or gerrymander election districts to ensure your party continues to win, doesn’t mean you should do it. Such acts destroy the ties that hold us together as a nation and we get the complete and utter dysfunction we’re seeing in our government today. History shows, dysfunction like ours leads to a loss of democracy and the rise of totalitarian rule.
In my dreams, I would like to see Kavanaugh withdraw and another individual nominated from a list of nominees agreed upon by the leaders of both parties. I would hope that the nominee would be an excellent legal scholar, and someone who adds intellectual and experiential diversity of the Supreme Court. Hopefully, someone who graduated from a school other than Yale or Harvard. Sadly, I know that I’m just dreaming, but I’m free to dream…for now.