“Prejudice” derives from Latin, meaning exactly as it suggests: “judging in advance.” In our country, it should be a basic creed that no public official, from cop to top, should be prejudiced against specific (non-criminal) groups of our citizens. Especially, judges at any level should not be prejudiced. That’s the meaning of the blindfold on Lady Justice.
Lately we’ve seen a repeated mosiac about the Kavanaugh hearings, identical down to each pebble from the president, major Republicans in Congress, Fox News, letters to the editor, and surprisingly from the nominee himself. Kavanaugh’s own considered, written opening statement:
“Since my nomination in July, there’s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation. … 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. … You have tried hard. You’ve given it your all. No one can question your efforts.”
People can differ on who was more persuasive, and whether Kavanaugh was honest. For a view starkedly different from that of past Chair of the Kauai Republican Party Alfred Sarmento (Other Voices 10/4/18), see bit.ly/2xO9hTL, which was written before the discovery of a contemporaneous letter from Kavanaugh, which he signed “Bart,” which makes mendacious, at best, his answers — never mentioning his high school nickname — about whether he felt the drunken lout “Bart O’Kavanaugh” in his friend Mark Judge’s book was based on him. Actually, I watched the hearing less interested in Kavanaugh’s teenage conduct than in his current demeanor.
I could overlook, although remember, Kavanaugh’s history of extreme Republican partisanship, such that his nomination to the D.C. Court of Appeals was stymied for three years. I withheld any opinion, since the relevant papers were withheld by the White House, as to whether he lied about his part in Bush’s torture memos.
Since the Constitution gives the president the right to nominate justices, I could tolerate that he apparently never actually tried a case as a lawyer or judge. I disliked, but could accept, that in the 1990s he practically invented the “Lock Her Up” stance toward Hillary, set the “perjury trap” for Bill, and unsuccessfully exhorted the other lawyers on the Starr investigation to conclude that Foster’s suicide was a conspiracy murder.
I could question, but not find disqualifying, that once the president became a Republican, Kavanaugh’s view of presidential immunity shifted 180 degrees, a crucial point in endearing him to Trump.
I knew that his most famous legal writing was the prurient portions of the Starr Report. This all I could live with for a Republican nominee, if he respected the Supreme Court as an entity, and showed he now had judicial temperament.
It is sad, but within his privilege, for a president to abuse the bully pulpit, using it to be a bully, amass a 21st century record of provably inaccurate statements, and to preach solely to his base. Such conduct is, sadly, now (and historically) endemic for politicians.
But, in layman’s terms, it’s a “no-no” for a judge to spout biased invective. Perhaps an extemporaneous puking, if goaded, would result in only a reprimand in most states.
However, a written and thus fully planned, weighed and reviewed statement, intended for universal distribution, which overtly questions the honesty, motives and patriotism of perhaps a majority of our citizens would and should normally result in a judge’s removal from office.
I can’t imagine any lawyer wanting to try or argue a case before a judge who is on record saying that his client’s political views establish that she is dishonest, conspiratorial, and motivated solely by regret over past Republican successes.
Kavanaugh is entitled to his views.
The United States is entitled to a judge sufficiently unbiased and impartial — unprejudiced — never to have uttered the partisan, deplorable statements repeated above.
Jed Somit is a resident of Kapaa.