Senator Collins: Lioness of the Senate

 

Senator Susan Collins stood forth on the Senate floor; today she was our Deborah. Senator Lamar Alexander, following her, praised her speech as one for the ages, linked to Senator Margaret Smith. Majority Leader McConnell then said he had been a young staffer when Senator Margaret Smith was the first to denounce McCarthyism. Senator Collins’s speech is important, not only for guaranteeing Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but also for marking off the bounds of decency — as her state’s first female Senator did over a generation ago.

Two weeks ago, I wrote “Senator Collins has been a true stateswoman in the Kavanaugh hearings.” A week ago, I observed:

Too many Republican “men” of the Senate are passively complicit in the Kavanaugh smear (Clarence Thomas smear, part II), or cowering in vision-distorting fear. Senator Collins was praiseworthy early last week, as was Senator Grassley. Time, however, has exposed the danger of their failure to stand strongly for justice, and for protecting the seriousness of real cases of sexual violence. Senator Collins has it right, that women must lead in this matter. So let one or a group of the Republican Senators who are women, or a great, aspiring stateswoman, like Congresswoman Martha McSally, take inspiration from Deborah, and stand forth!

In the end, it was the old lioness, Susan Collins, who stood forth. In so doing, she reaffirmed Maine’s official motto, emblazoned on the state seal and flag: DIRIGO  (I lead). She did so in the face of extreme pressure and despite knowing a Justice Kavanaugh will likely hold against imposing her social-sexual political agenda through the courts.

I commend to your viewing, and reading, two things: Senator Collins’s speech, 5 October 2018, and Senator Margaret Smith’s “Declaration of Conscience,” 1 June 1950. Here is the key paragraph from the “Declaration of Conscience,” previously quoted in “Who Will Be the American Margaret Thatcher? Who Will Be Our Deborah? [Updated]:

I think that it is high time for the United States Senate and its members to do some real soul searching and to weigh our consciences as to the manner in which we are performing our duty to the people of America and the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privileges. I think that it is high time that we remembered that we have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution. I think that it is high time that we remembered that the Constitution, as amended, speaks not only of the freedom of speech but also of trial by jury instead of trial by accusation. Whether it be a criminal prosecution in court or a character prosecution in the Senate, there is little practical distinction when the life of a person has been ruined.

Below is Senator Collins speech, printed in full. She starts her reasoning about the confirmation process by referring to Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 76, “The Executive Power of Appointment.” Senator Collins lays out deep and thoughtful reasoning, grounded in her reading of his opinions. Yes, much of it is her talking herself into seeing Judge Kavanaugh as a liberal (what she styles a “centrist”). But, Senator Collins has done her due diligence.  As to the process, she points out recent history, in which President Clinton nominated both Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer, while under impeachment investigation. To see her speech in context, view the whole proceedings, with her remarks starting at 05:36:52. Yes, that is the five hour, thirty-six minute mark.

Two women from Maine spoke on the Senate floor 68 years apart, both with the same message. Think on it. In this, there is both hope for our future, and a reminder of the highly imperfect humans and institutions that govern us.


Senator Collins Announces She Will Vote to Confirm Judge Kavanaugh [emphasis added]

Mr. President, the five previous times that I have come to the floor to explain my vote on the nomination of a justice to the United States Supreme Court, I have begun my floor remarks explaining my decision with a recognition of the solemn nature and the importance of the occasion.

But today we have come to the conclusion of a confirmation process that has become so dysfunctional it looks more like a caricature of a gutter-level political campaign than a solemn occasion. 

The President nominated Brett Kavanaugh on July 9th.  Within moments of that announcement, special interest groups raced to be the first to oppose him, including one organization that didn’t even bother to fill in the Judge’s name on its pre-written press release – they simply wrote that they opposed “Donald Trump’s nomination of XX to the Supreme Court of the United States.” A number of Senators joined the race to announce their opposition, but they were beaten to the punch by one of our colleagues who actually announced opposition before the nominee’s identity was even known.

Since that time, we have seen special interest groups whip their followers into a frenzy by spreading misrepresentations and outright falsehoods about Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record.  Over-the-top rhetoric and distortions of his record and testimony at his first hearing produced short-lived headlines which, although debunked hours later, continue to live on and be spread through social media.  Interest groups have also spent an unprecedented amount of dark money opposing this nomination.

Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than thirty years.  One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom. 

Against this backdrop, it is up to each individual Senator to decide what the Constitution’s “advice and consent” duty means.  Informed by Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 76, I have interpreted this to mean that the President has broad discretion to consider a nominee’s philosophy, whereas my duty as a Senator is to focus on the nominee’s qualifications as long as that nominee’s philosophy is within the mainstream of judicial thought.

I have always opposed litmus tests for judicial nominees with respect to their personal views or politics, but I fully expect them to be able to put aside any and all personal preferences in deciding the cases that come before them.  I have never considered the President’s identity or party when evaluating Supreme Court nominations.  As a result, I voted in favor of Justices Roberts and Alito, who were nominated by President Bush, Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, who were nominated by President Obama, and Justice Gorsuch, who was nominated by President Trump.

So I began my evaluation of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination by reviewing his 12-year record on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, including his more than 300 opinions and his many speeches and law review articles.  Nineteen attorneys, including lawyers from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, briefed me many times each week and assisted me in evaluating the judge’s extensive record.  I met with Judge Kavanaugh for more than two hours in my office.  I listened carefully to the testimony at the Committee hearings.  I spoke with people who knew him personally, such as Condoleezza Rice and many others.  And, I talked with Judge Kavanaugh a second time by phone for another hour to ask him very specific additional questions.

I have also met with thousands of my constituents, both advocates and many opponents, regarding Judge Kavanaugh.  One concern that I frequently heard was that Judge Kavanaugh would be likely to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) vital protections for people with preexisting conditions.  I disagree with this contention.  In a dissent in Seven-Sky v. Holder, Judge Kavanaugh rejected a challenge to the ACA on narrow procedural grounds, preserving the law in full.  Many experts have said his dissent informed Justice Roberts’ opinion upholding the ACA at the Supreme Court.

Furthermore, Judge Kavanaugh’s approach toward the doctrine of severability is narrow.  When a part of a statute is challenged on constitutional grounds, he has argued for severing the invalid clause as surgically as possible while allowing the overall law to remain intact.

This was his approach in his dissent in a case that involved a challenge to the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (PPH v. CFPB).  In his dissent, Judge Kavanaugh argued for “severing any problematic portions while leaving the remainder intact.”  Given the current challenges to the ACA, proponents, including myself, of protections for people with pre-existing conditions should want a Justice who would take just this kind of approach.

Another assertion I have heard often is that Judge Kavanaugh cannot be trusted if a case involving alleged wrongdoing by the President were to come before the Court.  The basis for this argument seems to be two-fold.  First, Judge Kavanaugh has written that he believes that Congress should enact legislation to protect presidents from criminal prosecution or civil liability while in office.  Mr. President, I believe opponents miss the mark on this issue.  The fact that Judge Kavanaugh offered this legislative proposal suggests that he believes that the President does not have such protection currently.

Second, there are some who argue that given the current Special Counsel investigation, President Trump should not even be allowed to nominate a justice.  That argument ignores our recent history.  President Clinton, in 1993, nominated Justice Ginsburg after the Whitewater investigation was already underway.  And she was confirmed 96-3.  The next year, just three months after Independent Counsel Robert Fiske was named to lead the Whitewater investigation, President Clinton nominated Justice Breyer.  He was confirmed 87-9.

Supreme Court Justices have not hesitated to rule against the presidents who have nominated them.  Perhaps most notably in United States v. Nixon, three Nixon appointees who heard the case joined the unanimous opinion against him.

Judge Kavanaugh has been unequivocal in his belief that no president is above the law.  He has stated that Marbury v. Madison, Youngstown Steel v. Sawyer and United States v. Nixon are three of the four greatest Supreme Court cases in history.  What do they have in common?  Each of them is a case where the Court served as a check on presidential power.  And I would note that the fourth case that Judge Kavanaugh has pointed to as the greatest in history was Brown v Board of Education.

One Kavanaugh decision illustrates the  point about the check on presidential power directly.  He wrote the opinion in Hamdan v. United States, a case that challenged the Bush Administration’s military commission prosecution of an associate of Osama Bin Laden.  This conviction was very important to the Bush Administration, but Judge Kavanaugh, who had been appointed to the DC Circuit by President Bush and had worked in President Bush’s White House, ruled that the conviction was unlawful.  As he explained during the hearing, “We don’t make decisions based on who people are, or their policy preferences, or the moment.  We base decisions on the law….”

Others I met with have expressed concerns that Justice Kennedy’s retirement threatens the right of same sex couples to marry.  Yet, Judge Kavanaugh described the Obergefell decision, which legalized same gender marriages, as an important landmark precedent.  He also cited Justice Kennedy’s recent Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion for the Court’s majority stating that: “The days of treating gay and lesbian Americans or gay and lesbian couples as second-class citizens who are inferior in dignity and worth are over in the Supreme Court.”

Others have suggested that the judge holds extreme views on birth control.  In one case, Judge Kavanaugh incurred the disfavor of both sides of the political spectrum for seeking to ensure the availability of contraceptive services for women while minimizing the involvement of employers with religious objections.  Although his critics frequently overlook this point, Judge Kavanaugh’s dissent rejected arguments that the government did not have a compelling interest in facilitating access to contraception.  In fact, he wrote that the Supreme Court precedent “strongly suggested” that there was a “compelling interest” in facilitating access to birth control.

There has also been considerable focus on the future of abortion rights based on the concern that Judge Kavanaugh would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Protecting this right is important to me.

To my knowledge, Judge Kavanaugh is the first Supreme Court nominee to express the view that precedent is not merely a practice and tradition, but rooted in Article III of our Constitution itself.  He believes that precedent “is not just a judicial policy … it is constitutionally dictated to pay attention and pay heed to rules of precedent.”  In other words, precedent isn’t a goal or an aspiration; it is a constitutional tenet that has to be followed except in the most extraordinary circumstances.

The judge further explained that precedent provides stability, predictability, reliance, and fairness.  There are, of course, rare and extraordinary times where the Supreme Court would rightly overturn a precedent.  The most famous example was when the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, correcting a “grievously wrong” decision–to use the judge’s term–allowing racial inequality.  But, someone who believes that the importance of precedent has been rooted in the Constitution would follow long-established precedent except in those rare circumstances where a decision is “grievously wrong” or “deeply inconsistent with the law.”  Those are Judge Kavanaugh’s phrases.

As Judge Kavanaugh asserted to me, a long-established precedent is not something to be trimmed, narrowed, discarded, or overlooked.  Its roots in the Constitution give the concept of stare decisis greater weight such that precedent can’t be trimmed or narrowed simply because a judge might want to on a whim.  In short, his views on honoring precedent would preclude attempts to do by stealth that which one has committed not to do overtly.

Noting that Roe v. Wade was decided 45 years ago, and reaffirmed 19 years later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, I asked Judge Kavanaugh whether the passage of time is relevant to following precedent.  He said decisions become part of our legal framework with the passage of time and that honoring precedent is essential to maintaining public confidence.

Our discussion then turned to the right of privacy, on which the Supreme Court relied in Griswold v. Connecticut, a case that struck down a law banning the use and sale of contraceptives.  Griswold established the legal foundation that led to Roe eight years later.  In describing Griswold as “settled law,” Judge Kavanaugh observed that it was the correct application of two famous cases from the 1920s, Meyer and Pierce, that are not seriously challenged by anyone today.  Finally, in his testimony, he noted repeatedly that Roe had been upheld by Planned Parenthood v. Casey, describing it as “precedent on precedent.”  When I asked him would it be sufficient to overturn a long-established precedent if five current justices believed it was wrongly decided, he emphatically said “no.”

Opponents frequently cite then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to nominate only judges who would overturn Roe.  The Republican platform for all presidential campaigns has included this pledge since at least 1980.  During this time, Republican presidents have appointed Justices O’Connor, Souter, and Kennedy to the Supreme Court.  These are the very three justices—Republican president appointed justices—who authored the Casey decision, which reaffirmed Roe.  Furthermore, pro-choice groups vigorously opposed each of these justices’ nominations.  Incredibly, they even circulated buttons with the slogan “Stop Souter Or Women Will Die!”  Just two years later, Justice Souter coauthored the Casey opinion, reaffirming a woman’s right to choose.  Suffice it to say, prominent advocacy organizations have been wrong.

These same interest groups have speculated that Judge Kavanaugh was selected to do the bidding of conservative ideologues, despite his record of judicial independence.  I asked the judge point blank whether he had made any commitments or pledges to anyone at the White House, to the Federalist Society, or to any outside group on how he would decide cases.  He unequivocally assured me he had not.

Judge Kavanaugh has received rave reviews for his 12-year track record as a judge, including for his judicial temperament.  The American Bar Association (ABA) gave him its highest possible rating.  Its Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary conducted an extraordinarily thorough assessment, soliciting input from almost 500 people, including his judicial colleagues.  The ABA concluded that “his integrity, judicial temperament, and professional competence met the highest standard.”

Lisa Blatt, who has argued more cases before the Supreme Court than any other woman in history, testified: “By any objective measure, Judge Kavanaugh is clearly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.”  “His opinions are invariably thoughtful and fair….”  Ms. Blatt, who clerked for and is an ardent admirer of Justice Ginsburg, and who is, in her own words, “an unapologetic defender of a woman’s right to choose,” said that Judge Kavanaugh “fit[s] in the mainstream of legal thought.”  She also observed that “Judge Kavanaugh is remarkably committed to promoting women in the legal profession.”

That Judge Kavanaugh is more of a centrist than some of his critics maintain is reflected in the fact that he and Chief Judge Merrick Garland voted the same way in 93 percent of the cases that they heard together.  Indeed, Chief Judge Garland joined in more than 96 percent of the majority opinions authored by Judge Kavanaugh, dissenting only once.

Despite all this, after weeks of reviewing Judge Kavanaugh’s record and listening to 32 hours of his testimony, the Senate’s advice and consent role was thrown into a tailspin following the allegations of sexual assault by Professor Christine Blasey Ford.  The confirmation process now involves evaluating whether or not Judge Kavanaugh committed sexual assault, and lied about it to the Judiciary Committee.

Some argue that because this is a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the public interest requires that doubts be resolved against the nominee.  Others see the public interest as embodied in our long-established tradition of affording to those accused of misconduct a presumption of innocence.  In cases in which the facts are unclear, they would argue that the question should be resolved in favor of the nominee.

Mr. President, I understand both viewpoints.  This debate is complicated further by the fact that the Senate confirmation process is not a trial.  But certain fundamental legal principles—about due process, the presumption of innocence, and fairness—do bear on my thinking, and I cannot abandon them. 

In evaluating any given claim of misconduct, we will be ill served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be.  We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy. 

The presumption of innocence is relevant to the advice and consent function when an accusation departs from a nominee’s otherwise exemplary record.  I worry that departing from this presumption could lead to a lack of public faith in the judiciary and would be hugely damaging to the confirmation process moving forward.

Some of the allegations levied against Judge Kavanaugh illustrate why the presumption of innocence is so important.  I am thinking in particular not of the allegations raised by Professor Ford, but of the allegation that, when he was a teenager, Judge Kavanaugh drugged multiple girls and used their weakened state to facilitate gang rape.  This outlandish allegation was put forth without any credible supporting evidence and simply parroted public statements of others.  That such an allegation can find its way into the Supreme Court confirmation process is a stark reminder about why the presumption of innocence is so ingrained in our American consciousness.

Mr. President, I listened carefully to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee.  I found her testimony to be sincere, painful, and compelling.  I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life.  Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred; none of the individuals Professor Ford says were at the party has any recollection at all of that night.

Judge Kavanaugh forcefully denied the allegations under penalty of perjury.  Mark Judge denied under penalty of felony that he had witnessed an assault.  PJ Smyth, another person allegedly at the party, denied that he was there under penalty of felony.  Professor Ford’s life-long friend Leland Keyser indicated that, under penalty of felony, she does not remember that party.  And Ms. Keyser went further.  She indicated that not only does she not remember a night like that, but also that she does not even know Brett Kavanaugh.

In addition to the lack of corroborating evidence, we also learned some facts that raised more questions.  For instance, since these allegations have become public, Professor Ford testified that not a single person has contacted her to say, “I was at the party that night.”

Furthermore, the professor testified that although she does not remember how she got home that evening, she knew that, because of the distance, she would have needed a ride – yet not a single person has come forward to say that they were the one that drove her home or were in the car with her that night.  And Professor Ford also indicated that even though she left that small gathering of six or so people abruptly and without saying goodbye and distraught, none of them called her the next day – or ever – to ask why she left – is she okay – not even her closest friend, Ms. Keyser.

Mr. President, the Constitution does not provide guidance as to how we are supposed to evaluate these competing claims.  It leaves that decision up to each Senator.  This is not a criminal trial, and I do not believe that claims such as these need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  Nevertheless, fairness would dictate that the claims at least should meet a threshold of “more likely than not” as our standard. 

The facts presented do not mean that Professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night – or at some other time – but they do lead me to conclude that the allegations fail to meet the “more likely than not” standard.  Therefore, I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the Court.

Let me emphasize that my approach to this question should not be misconstrued as suggesting that unwanted sexual contact of any nature is not a serious problem in this country.  To the contrary, if any good at all has come from this ugly confirmation process, it has been to create an awareness that we have underestimated the pervasiveness of this terrible problem.

I have been alarmed and disturbed, however, by some who have suggested that unless Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is rejected, the Senate is somehow condoning sexual assault.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Every person—man or woman–who makes a charge of sexual assault deserves to be heard and treated with respect.  The #MeToo movement is real.  It matters.  It is needed.  And it is long overdue. We know that rape and sexual assault are less likely to be reported to the police than other forms of assault.  On average, an estimated 211,000 rapes and sexual assaults go unreported every year. We must listen to survivors, and every day we must seek to stop the criminal behavior that has hurt so many.  We owe this to ourselves, our children, and generations to come.

Since the hearing, I have listened to many survivors of sexual assault.  Many were total strangers who told me their heart-wrenching stories for the first time in their lives.  Some were friends I have known for decades, yet with the exception of one woman who had confided in me years ago, I had no idea that they had been the victims of sexual attacks.  I am grateful for their courage and their willingness to come forward, and I hope that in heightening public awareness, they have also lightened the burden that they have been quietly bearing for so many years.  To them, I pledge to do all that I can to ensure that their daughters and granddaughters never share their experiences.

Over the past few weeks, I have been emphatic that the Senate has an obligation to investigate and evaluate the serious allegations of sexual assault.  I called for and supported the additional hearing to hear from both Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.  I also pushed for and supported the FBI supplemental background investigation.  This was the right thing to do.

Christine Ford never sought the spotlight.  She indicated that she was terrified to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and she has shunned attention since then.  She seemed completely unaware of Chairman Grassley’s offer to allow her to testify confidentially in California.  Watching her, Mr. President, I could not help but feel that some people who wanted to engineer the defeat of this nomination cared little, if at all, for her well-being.

Professor Ford testified that a very limited number of people had access to her letter.  Yet that letter found its way into the public domain.  She testified that she never gave permission for that very private letter to be released.  And yet, here we are.  We are in the middle of a fight that she never sought, arguing about claims that she wanted to raise confidentially.

One theory I have heard espoused repeatedly is that our colleague, Senator Feinstein, leaked Professor Ford’s letter at the eleventh hour to derail this process.  I want to state this very clearly: I know Senator Diane Feinstein extremely well, and I believe that she would never do that.  I knew that to be the case before she even stated it at the hearing.  She is a person of integrity, and I stand by her.

I have also heard some argue that the Chairman of the Committee somehow treated Professor Ford unfairly.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Chairman Grassley, along with his excellent staff, treated Professor Ford with compassion and respect throughout the entire process.  And that is the way the Senator from Iowa has conducted himself throughout a lifetime dedicated to public service.

But the fact remains, Mr. President, that someone leaked this letter against Professor Ford’s express wishes.  I suspect, regrettably, that we will never know for certain who did it.  To that leaker, who I hope is listening now, let me say that what you did was unconscionable.  You have taken a survivor who was not only entitled to your respect, but who also trusted you to protect her – and you have sacrificed her well-being in a misguided attempt to win whatever political crusade you think you are fighting.  My only hope is that your callous act has turned this process into such a dysfunctional circus that it will cause the Senate – and indeed all Americans – to reconsider how we evaluate Supreme Court nominees.  If that happens, then the appalling lack of compassion you afforded Professor Ford will at least have some unintended positive consequences.

Mr. President, the politically charged atmosphere surrounding this nomination had reached a fever pitch even before these allegations were known, and it has been challenging even then to separate fact from fiction.

We live in a time of such great disunity, as the bitter fight over this nomination both in the Senate and among the public clearly demonstrates.  It is not merely a case of different groups having different opinions.  It is a case of people bearing extreme ill will toward those who disagree with them.  In our intense focus on our differences, we have forgotten the common values that bind us together as Americans.  When some of our best minds are seeking to develop ever more sophisticated algorithms designed to link us to websites that only reinforce and cater to our views, we can only expect our differences to intensify.

This would have alarmed the drafters of our Constitution, who were acutely aware that different values and interests could prevent Americans from becoming and remaining a single people.  Indeed, of the six objectives they invoked in the preamble to the Constitution, the one that they put first was the formation of “a more perfect Union.”

Their vision of “a more perfect Union” does not exist today, and if anything, we appear to be moving farther away from it.  It is particularly worrisome that the Supreme Court, the institution that most Americans see as the principal guardian of our shared constitutional heritage, is viewed as part of the problem through a political lens.

Mr. President, we’ve heard a lot of charges and counter charges about Judge Kavanaugh.  But as those who have known him best have attested, he has been an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father.  Despite the turbulent, bitter fight surrounding his nomination, my fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so that we have far fewer 5-4 decisions and so that public confidence in our Judiciary and our highest court is restored.  Mr. President, I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

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  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    when a majority calculated it could make their preferences stick.

    Is that the same as “when they thought they could get away with it?”

    When “thought” is 50:50, push to the court, “believed” is 90 percent confident, and “calculated” is made a decision closer to a sure thing than “thought,” I’d say: “when they calculated they could get away with it.”

    • #31
  2. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    When I was little, I had cousins who lived in Alaska, and I thought they lived in an igloo.

    Who’s to say they didn’t?

    • #32
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Then they should be put on the spot: “how should Lisa Murkowski be punished?” Should she forfeit her chairmanship of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources?

    As a former Alaskan, may I simply say yes. She is owned by the Alaska Natives who paid for her write-in campaign in 2010 when she had been defeated in the primary. Check it out here.

    When I was little, I had cousins who lived in Alaska, and I thought they lived in an igloo.

    But did they live in a log cabin in the woods?

    • #33
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Then they should be put on the spot: “how should Lisa Murkowski be punished?” Should she forfeit her chairmanship of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources?

    As a former Alaskan, may I simply say yes. She is owned by the Alaska Natives who paid for her write-in campaign in 2010 when she had been defeated in the primary. Check it out here.

    When I was little, I had cousins who lived in Alaska, and I thought they lived in an igloo.

    It is a huge state, with a very small population, not so easy to visit. But, perhaps you watched too many movie matinees. I believe the “defending native people’s rights” bit is a fig leaf for her abortion extremism.

     

    Well I was 6. Also, I believe she took a lot of money from the tribes in order to get elected. Still it was bizarre that she even mentioned them in her Kavanaugh speech today.

    Fig leaf.

    • #34
  5. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Stunning speech that will go down through the ages – in one of those moments where the country held its collective breath.  Even the protesters in the hall fell silent.  It seemed every bit as important as the vote itself – maybe more so – because it was an education, or a re-education of what this country stands for, and must never forget.  I am so happy today!

    • #35
  6. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    When I was little, I had cousins who lived in Alaska, and I thought they lived in an igloo.

    When I flew to Alaska to get married to the gorgeous Texan/Alaskan I’d met in the lower 48, my mother packed canned goods in my luggage as she thought I’d be eating whale blubber. Ha.

    • #36
  7. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    This was well done. A solid, thoughtful argument, well stated and effectively timed.  

    I hope some of her predictions about how Kavanaugh rules are proven wrong.  But that doesn’t matter right now.  She made a careful, thorough case, and she was absolutely the right person to make it.

    I thought she sounded sensible early on, when the allegations first emerged, so I am not shocked to see her here now. I give her credit for wanting the FBI report for honest reasons of thoroughness, and despite many fears this past week has worked very much in Kavanaugh’s favor. 

    She managed to hold out on her vote long enough to ensure the media paid attention to her speech, and then she made the most of it — so that America sees the final decision coming from a calm, reasonable woman, restating the evidence (or lack thereof) and defining and defending the key principles at stake.

    This was brilliantly managed.  

    • #37
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Senator Collins argued, to herself and others, that Kavanaugh would not threaten their sacrament of unrestricted abortion on demand. Senator Murkowski isn’t willing to accept the risk.

    They have spent a lifetime averting their eyes, enabling Gosnells.

    • #38
  9. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Seems it was a nice beltway theater production (I haven’t read/seen it yet), but I wonder what the real price was for this vote. There will be more to this story…you can count on it.

    • #39
  10. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Leigh (View Comment):

    She managed to hold out on her vote long enough to ensure the media paid attention to her speech, and then she made the most of it — so that America sees the final decision coming from a calm, reasonable woman, restating the evidence (or lack thereof) and defining and defending the key principles at stake.

    This was brilliantly managed.

    Yes. She is a smart woman, and a very, very savvy politician. 

    • #40
  11. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    philo (View Comment):

    Seems it was a nice beltway theater production (I haven’t read/seen it yet), but I wonder what the real price was for this vote. There will be more to this story…you can count on it.

    Same as always. She has an IOU from Mcconnell and from Trump. I think the key here is Kavanaugh is a standard issue Republican jurist, more like Roberts than Scalia. Like Collins herself.

    I will say in summary, thankfully were were spared the theatrics of the late Senator from Arizona!

     

    • #41
  12. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Chris (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown:

    (from Sen. Collins’ speech)

    That Judge Kavanaugh is more of a centrist than some of his critics maintain is reflected in the fact that he and Chief Judge Merrick Garland voted the same way in 93 percent of the cases that they heard together. Indeed, Chief Judge Garland joined in more than 96 percent of the majority opinions authored by Judge Kavanaugh, dissenting only once.

    This is a the record of a evil extremist?

    Well done, Senator.

    Susan Collins presented an unemotional academic tutorial for a U.S. Senator to perform advise and consent. The Democrats, otoh, have turned this process into a freak show. The only add I have on Kavanaugh is the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for…you may get it.” It is highly possible that we have indeed replaced Anthony Kennedy with another Anthony Kennedy of a different name.

    • #42
  13. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    I wonder, too, whether the thousands of coat hangers, attempts at blackmail and death/rape threats made her angry?

    • #43
  14. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    The two women sitting behind Collins implied that they “had her back.”  They were sitting at desks assigned to two male Republican Senators.

    Traditionally, the Presiding Officer of the Senate is a Freshman Senator.  But not for the cloture vote.  West Virginia Shelly Moore Capito was pressed into service.

    Great optics!  Ol Mitch strikes again!  Mitch plays the long game.

    • #44
  15. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    What’s with the screaming, though? 

    When the protesters gathered in Portland outside  Collins’ office heard (over their phones) her say she would vote yes to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, the protesters literally screamed. Not groaned. Not even cussed. Just screamed like…children. 

    I’ve spent the morning talking to a friend who got into a heated argument with a generally lefty man who bristled at being called a “white male.” Everyone’s bristling and ready to blow a gasket. 

    I pointed out that when I was young and full of outrage, we had just as much to be outraged about as any SJW does today. More, in fact, given that there were a whole lot more bona fide racists and sexists waddling around Capitol Hill. Not to mention nuclear war, and Ronald Reagan and all the other Threats To Life As We Know It.

    But we didn’t scream.

    Honestly: It’s embarrassing.

    • #45
  16. Mikescapes Inactive
    Mikescapes
    @Mikescapes

    This may be slightly off point. While Susan Collins distinguished herself, another Republican did not. I refer not to Murkowski for now, but to Sen. Steve Daines of Montana. How does a daughter’s wedding date become a valid excuse for not attending the most crucial vote on the direction of constitutional government in America? Weddings can be held a week later. The vote can’t. This is patently an excuse i/m/o. He, like all politicians has polled, and a vote in favor of Kavanaugh might be risky for his upcoming election. So, he bails on his allies with the wedding deflection. 

    How does he get away with this? Why aren’t Republicans putting the squeeze on. I know the song and dance that he flies in and back if there is some desertion, and the nomination is in question . That’s an easy one given likelihood of such an event. And why should he look like some kind of hero if he make this great sacrifice. B/t/w, was the date, Sat., for the vote firm when he refused to appear? I for one am calling him out. So should his colleagues.

    • #46
  17. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    What’s with the screaming, though?

    When the protesters gathered in Portland outside Collins’ office heard (over their phones) her say she would vote yes to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, the protesters literally screamed. Not groaned. Not even cussed. Just screamed like…children.

    I’ve spent the morning talking to a friend who got into a heated argument with a generally lefty man who bristled at being called a “white male.” Everyone’s bristling and ready to blow a gasket.

    I pointed out that when I was young and full of outrage, we had just as much to be outraged about as any SJW does today. More, in fact, given that there were a whole lot more bona fide racists and sexists waddling around Capitol Hill. Not to mention nuclear war, and Ronald Reagan and all the other Threats To Life As We Know It.

    But we didn’t scream.

    Honestly: It’s embarrassing.

    I know! Did you see that one who sounded like she was doing the Rebel Yell? A weird ululating screech. So weird.

    • #47
  18. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Mikescapes (View Comment):

    This may be slightly off point. While Susan Collins distinguished herself, another Republican did not. I refer not to Murkowski for now, but to Sen. Steve Daines of Montana. How does a daughter’s wedding date become a valid excuse for not attending the most crucial vote on the direction of constitutional government in America? Weddings can be held a week later. The vote can’t. This is patently an excuse i/m/o. He, like all politicians has polled, and a vote in favor of Kavanaugh might be risky for his upcoming election. So, he bails on his allies with the wedding deflection.

    How does he get away with this? Why aren’t Republicans putting the squeeze on. I know the song and dance that he flies in and back if there is some desertion, and the nomination is in question . That’s an easy one given likelihood of such an event. And why should he look like some kind of hero if he make this great sacrifice. B/t/w, was the date, Sat., for the vote firm when he refused to appear? I for one am calling him out. So should his colleagues.

    I kind of saw it this way too, even though at the last minute he made it clear he would do both if necessary. It didn’t really fly if you think about it.

    • #48
  19. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    The thing that bothers me the most about these protests is that they’ve gone over the line into mob rule territory. They’re just reacting mindlessly at this point and not thinking things through. I mean do they actually think the Supreme Court is supposed to be subject to political pressure?

    • #49
  20. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    And after people noticed how every college kid protester on the sidewalk was waving an expensive-looking professionally made sign, suddenly I started seeing overly-crude ones, even one that was made from a cardboard box that had been taken apart, with the words scrawled in marker. These people are just ridiculous.

    • #50
  21. Weeping Inactive
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    Mikescapes (View Comment):

    This may be slightly off point. While Susan Collins distinguished herself, another Republican did not. I refer not to Murkowski for now, but to Sen. Steve Daines of Montana. How does a daughter’s wedding date become a valid excuse for not attending the most crucial vote on the direction of constitutional government in America? Weddings can be held a week later. The vote can’t. This is patently an excuse i/m/o. He, like all politicians has polled, and a vote in favor of Kavanaugh might be risky for his upcoming election. So, he bails on his allies with the wedding deflection.

    How does he get away with this? Why aren’t Republicans putting the squeeze on. I know the song and dance that he flies in and back if there is some desertion, and the nomination is in question . That’s an easy one given likelihood of such an event. And why should he look like some kind of hero if he make this great sacrifice. B/t/w, was the date, Sat., for the vote firm when he refused to appear? I for one am calling him out. So should his colleagues.

    No, not really. Not with the kind of wedding his daughter is probably having. I don’t know for certain, but we’re probably not talking about a simple backyard or courthouse wedding. We’re talking about one that took months of planning and required tons of reservations – caterers, the wedding venue, airplane tickets for some of the guests and wedding party who live out of town. Those kinds of weddings can not be easily postponed. Even the simple (and I do mean simple) church wedding that Mr. Weeping and I had years ago would not have been easy to postpone. A fancy one (as I imagine a senator’s daughter’s would be) would be pretty much impossible to postpone. Dad would either be there or not.

    And while I agree that the confirmation vote is important, I think it’s also important to remember that when this wedding was planned, there probably wasn’t a vote even on the schedule. (I suspect it was in the works well before Kennedy resigned.) And if there was, it was supposed to be finished by now. Senators are people with families that they love and care about, just like you and me; so I’m not going to begrudge Senator Daines his desire to be there for his daughter’s wedding if he can reasonably make it.

    • #51
  22. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Mikescapes (View Comment):
    How does a daughter’s wedding date become a valid excuse for not attending the most crucial vote on the direction of constitutional government in America? Weddings can be held a week later.

    Are you married?

     

    • #52
  23. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Mikescapes (View Comment):
    How does a daughter’s wedding date become a valid excuse for not attending the most crucial vote on the direction of constitutional government in America? Weddings can be held a week later.

    Are you married?

     

    Haha!

    • #53
  24. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Mikescapes (View Comment):
    This may be slightly off point. While Susan Collins distinguished herself, another Republican did not. I refer not to Murkowski for now, but to Sen. Steve Daines of Montana. How does a daughter’s wedding date become a valid excuse for not attending the most crucial vote on the direction of constitutional government in America?

    I don’t get this take at all. It’s simple decency to bend over backwards to try to make it possible for people to be present for births, weddings, and funerals.

    He’s from Montana! There is precisely zero chance he’s afraid of the vote hurting him politically. If he wanted to avoid responsibility for his support for Kavanaugh, he’d be downplaying his support for Kavanaugh. He was going out of his way to emphasize it.

    Allow the man to be a human being, and to reserve a few hours of his life to walk his daughter down the aisle. No, wedding dates aren’t so easily rescheduled, if you know anything about the logistics of getting people together (let alone reservations).  You don’t ask someone to miss something like that unless it is absolutely necessary.  Sometimes it is.  This wasn’t. The very worst that would have happened is that everyone else would have their votes on the record and we’d be waiting a few hours to make it official.  The country could have survived a few hours of unsuspenseful delay.

    • #54
  25. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Mikescapes (View Comment):
    How does a daughter’s wedding date become a valid excuse for not attending the most crucial vote on the direction of constitutional government in America? Weddings can be held a week later.

    Are you married?

     

    Haha!

    I got married in 2003 in Hawaii.

    About six weeks before the wedding, a major project at work that I was a significant part of (converting our Manufacturing ERP system into the application that I supported) had it’s implementation delayed – to the weekend we were leaving for Hawaii.   

    I told my boss he was welcome to tell my (now) wife that I wasn’t going to be able to make it, but I wasn’t going to be the one to do it.

    Fortunately they were able to pull in a couple of hired guns to cover for me (at work, not the wedding), and I ended up getting an atta-boy for the detailed preparations I had put together.

    • #55
  26. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Mikescapes (View Comment):
    B/t/w, was the date, Sat., for the vote firm when he refused to appear?

    The media overplayed the “refuse to appear.”  When he said he’d be in Montana Saturday morning reporters looking for drama jumped on it and made it a bigger deal than it really was. They made it sound like some big showdown where he was putting his daughter first even if it sank the nomination.  

    Instead I’d assume that McConnell, being competent, has been in touch with his caucus all along, was aware of any schedule conflicts, and wasn’t worried about it.

    • #56
  27. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    I too thought that Sen. Collins’s speech was exceptional by the standards of the Senate, which says something about Senator Collins and something else about what has become of the standards of the Senate (jokingly called “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body”).  It was a very lawyer-like speech (essentially a closing argument).  Since Sen. Collins is not a lawyer herself, I assume she had some very competent help in writing it.  Give that guy/gal a raise; they earned it.

    I was a little bit annoyed that it took her so long to announce her position.  There was nothing she said that wasn’t obvious days or weeks ago.  But ultimately she got it right, and ultimately that’s what counts.  I am inclined to give her a break the next time she feels the need to put self-preservation in deep blue New England ahead of party loyalty.

    And to those calling for retribution against Sen. Murkowski, please keep in mind that McConnell has only a one vote majority and will need her vote in the future.  Maybe, if we can pick of three or four seats in the Senate, there might be a little leeway to engage in vindictiveness.  But right now I think we have to bite our collective lip and move on graciously.

    • #57
  28. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Leigh (View Comment):

    Mikescapes (View Comment):
    B/t/w, was the date, Sat., for the vote firm when he refused to appear?

    The media overplayed the “refuse to appear.” When he said he’d be in Montana Saturday morning reporters looking for drama jumped on it and made it a bigger deal than it really was. They made it sound like some big showdown where he was putting his daughter first even if it sank the nomination.

    Instead I’d assume that McConnell, being competent, has been in touch with his caucus all along, was aware of any schedule conflicts, and wasn’t worried about it.

    I agree with this. But I coudn’t help feeling a twinge when it was announced he couldn’t be there due to the wedding. I mean how can there be a better excuse than that? Then I thought what a shame it is that we even have to think this way lately.

    • #58
  29. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Leigh (View Comment):

    Mikescapes (View Comment):
    B/t/w, was the date, Sat., for the vote firm when he refused to appear?

    The media overplayed the “refuse to appear.” When he said he’d be in Montana Saturday morning reporters looking for drama jumped on it and made it a bigger deal than it really was. They made it sound like some big showdown where he was putting his daughter first even if it sank the nomination.

    Instead I’d assume that McConnell, being competent, has been in touch with his caucus all along, was aware of any schedule conflicts, and wasn’t worried about it.

    I agree with this. But I coudn’t help feeling a twinge when it was announced he couldn’t be there due to the wedding. I mean how can there be a better excuse than that? Then I thought what a shame it is that we even have to think this way lately.

    You also have to wonder why McConnell scheduled the vote for Saturday instead of Sunday, when there was a known conflict on one of his Yes’s.

     

    • #59
  30. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I agree with this. But I coudn’t help feeling a twinge when it was announced he couldn’t be there due to the wedding. I mean how can there be a better excuse than that? Then I thought what a shame it is that we even have to think this way lately.

    You also have to wonder why McConnell scheduled the vote for Saturday instead of Sunday, when there was a known conflict on one of his Yes’s.

    Well, there could be some other conflict, or maybe he just wanted to give as little time as possible for anyone to change their minds, or maybe he wanted the new Justice to have at least a little time off before starting work?

    • #60
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