Hello book lovers, welcome back! Today I’m really pleased to welcome authors Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino, to
Today we’re taking a peek at Justice on Trial, which reads more like a novel than a fact-filled book. People in reading this book will get a grasp of the dysfunctional process of confirming a supreme court justice. Whether liberal or conservative, after reading this, it will hopefully give people pause about the fairness and politicization of the process.
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Justice on Trial by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino is a powerful book, regardless of a person’s political affiliation. This story reads more like a novel than a fact-filled book. It explains the historical context of the court nomination system and how political and cultural trends change the shape of the institution over time. Readers can grasp how the nominating process works and get a behind the scenes look at what really happened during the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Justice. The authors provide an objective account that reflects a respect for the rule of law and the presumption of innocence.
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist, a Senior Journalism Fellow at Hillsdale College, and a Fox News contributor that always provides clarity and is a voice for common sense. Carrie Severino, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network. In that capacity she has testified before Congress on assorted constitutional issues and briefed Senators on judicial nominations. She has also been extensively quoted in the media and regularly appears on diverse networks such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. Both authors are highly regarded political analysts.
They emphasize in the book that from the moment Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered to be a “swing vote” justice, announced his retirement in June 2018, the drama began, even before Brett Kavanaugh was selected. Because the Democrats and media did not want a Conservative appointed to replace Kennedy, they planned from the start to oppose whomever President Trump nominated. What resulted was the nasty politics of character assassination that have plagued the confirmation process
The Democrats began their tactics on July 9th, 2018 after President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for a position on the Supreme Court. Even before the confirmation hearing many Democrats including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and some Democrats on the committee had already announced their intention to vote against Kavanaugh. Thus, began the campaign to destroy Brett Kavanaugh by any means possible, including unverified and nonsensical accusations of sexual assault.
Although no hint of sexual misconduct had ever attached to Kavanaugh in his previous confirmation hearings or FBI background checks, on July 30, 2018, Christine Blasey Ford wrote U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein a letter, asking for confidentiality, that accused Kavanaugh of having sexually assaulted her in the 1980s. Feinstein held on to it and did not refer the allegation to the FBI until September 14, 2018, after the Judiciary Committee had completed its hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
As with any story there are protagonists and antagonists. The protagonists are Brett Kavanaugh’s family who had to endure these public claims. Also on the hero’s list is Senator Susan Collins who found the Democratic obstruction outrageous and had to withstand hangers sent to all her offices, obscene and threatening voicemails, being accosted by someone shining a flashlight in her eyes, had a female staffer told by a caller that they hoped she would be raped, and Senator Collins had to have a hazardous material team sent to her home after an anthrax/ricin letter scare. Anyone watching her reasons for voting yes on his confirmation would understand how she is evenhanded, thoughtful, and, reasonable.
Other protagonists are Ruth Bader Ginsberg who said in September 2018 that the confirmation hearings used to be bi-partisan and pointed out how she was confirmed by a 96 – 3 vote and for Anthony Scalia the vote was unanimous. “That’s the way it should be, instead of what it’s become, which is a highly partisan show…I wish I could wave a magic wand and have it go back.” Justice Sotomayor reminded Kavanaugh that “we’re family here,” while Justice Kagan made a point of talking to him during the bar admission ceremony, calling them “a team of nine.”
People in reading this book will get a grasp of the dysfunctional process of confirming a supreme court justice. Whether liberal or conservative, after reading this, it will hopefully give people pause about the fairness and politicization of the process.
Elise Cooper: Do you think television helped to expose the truth?
Carrie Severino: One example, of many, was NBCs interview with Julie Swetnick. Even though, they prefaced it that they could not confirm anything they aired it anyway. In the end it backfired. There were so many things she said that were at odds with her story. For example, she claimed those at Kavanaugh’s school, Georgetown Preparatory School, wore their uniforms to parties. But people, who had been there said there was no school uniform. This shows the inconsistencies of the story. Later it was learned that NBC actually withheld other pieces of the story from the American people, including misconstruing what a witness actually said.
Mollie Hemingway: People definitely learned a lot by watching the hearings. They got a narrative that was at odds with the real set of facts.
EC: Please explain this book quote, “But a lack of evidence never seemed to keep them from being taken seriously.”
CS: It was disconcerting to see that even when outlandish allegations came out, they were taken seriously by the Democrats and the media. A man’s reputation was dragged thought the mud publicly with life-long consequences. There is a need for some kind of evidence to substantiate the accusations. We talk in the book about an understanding in our society that accusations cannot be acted upon without any evidence.
MH: There is an inherent contradiction to some people’s reaction to the #MeTooMovement. There is the good of holding powerful men responsible in the sexual exploitation of women. Yet, not everyone’s allegation must be believed without evidence to support them. It is the standard of believing people without evidence that leads to situations. Remember Swetnick accused people of gang rape of underage women. All the Democrats responded by saying Kavanaugh should resign. Senator Diane Feinstein even read that accusation into the congressional record. It made a farce of the confirmation process by not handling all the accusations with confidentiality instead of the media circus.
EC: Was due process thrown out the window?
MH: Some Senators said they opposed whoever the nominee would be before the process started. We need to understand how advise and consent is a very important function of the Senate and we are now aware that not every Senator takes that function seriously.
EC: The quote by Senator Mike Lee to Kavanaugh highlights Senator Collins thinking?
CS: You are referring when he said, “This process in my opinion should be about qualifications, about your character, about your approach to judging.” Senator Collins was a real heroine in this process. She had courage and a commitment to treating this process fairly from the very first moment. Yet, she was attacked and bullied. We learned this is not the way to make progress with Susan Collins. She does not run in the face of intimidation and bullying. In fact, it made her more careful and meticulous in her drawing of conclusions as she evaluated his record and the evidence against him.
MH: We learned from Senator Collins how a Senator does take their role very seriously. She analyzed the nominees judicial record and philosophy intensely. In fact, she hired many additional staff to go through his record, and conducted a thorough interview when he met with her.
EC: What about Kavanaugh’s family?
CS: One of the reasons we wrote this book is to forestall this situation in the future. Ashley Kavanaugh was praying for her husband not to be picked. Not because she did not consider him the most qualified person in the country for the job, but because they went through a strenuous process to get the appellate job. She knew how ugly it was. Now we have to wonder if good men and women will hesitate to have their hats thrown in the ring. By exposing what happened we are hoping to discourage taking the route of politics of personal destruction rather than a legitimate inquiry into a nominee’s judicial philosophy.
EC: Are there any consequences to come out of this confirmation hearing?
MH: The Me-Too Movement is damaged by the weaponization for political ends. It was an unfortunate use of a movement that was bringing accountability to powerful men. The Democrats also had it backfire in the Senate when Republicans picked up three seats in 2018. A couple of the “blue Democrats” who lost do feel the Democratic tactics with Kavanaugh are part of what hurt their electoral situation. I also think the media lost more credibility.
EC: Is there accountability?
MH: No. There has not been a lot of accountability on a personal level. Senators were breaking rules that included circumventing the process and releasing confidential documents. There were criminal referrals for those who made false allegations but no one was held accountable.
EC: What do you want Americans to get out of your book?
CS: We saw there is a real appetite for people to understand what happened. They don’t feel a sense of closure just because Kavanaugh is on the court. So many things went wrong with this process and there has not been much accountability. I think Americans are interested in finding out the facts and are still concerned with what happened. It will definitely carry into 2020.
Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court Kindle Edition
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Justice Anthony Kennedy slipped out of the Supreme Court building on June 27, 2018, and traveled incognito to the White House to inform President Donald Trump that he was retiring, setting in motion a political process that his successor, Brett Kavanaugh, would denounce three months later as a “national disgrace” and a “circus.”
Justice on Trial, the definitive insider’s account of Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, is based on extraordinary access to more than one hundred key figures—including the president, justices, and senators—in that ferocious political drama.
The Trump presidency opened with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to succeed the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. But the following year, when Trump drew from the same list of candidates for his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the justice being replaced was the swing vote on abortion, and all hell broke loose.
The judicial confirmation process, on the point of breakdown for thirty years, now proved utterly dysfunctional. Unverified accusations of sexual assault became weapons in a ruthless campaign of personal destruction, culminating in the melodramatic hearings in which Kavanaugh’s impassioned defense resuscitated a nomination that seemed beyond saving.
The Supreme Court has become the arbiter of our nation’s most vexing and divisive disputes. With the stakes of each vacancy incalculably high, the incentive to destroy a nominee is nearly irresistible. The next time a nomination promises to change the balance of the Court, Hemingway and Severino warn, the confirmation fight will be even uglier than Kavanaugh’s.
A good person might accept that nomination in the naïve belief that what happened to Kavanaugh won’t happen to him because he is a good person. But it can happen, it does happen, and it just happened. The question is whether America will let it happen again.
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Great new book, “Justice On Trial, The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court.” Fantastic job by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2019