Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) made it clear that he’s fed up with the drama that has surrounded Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, particularly because he believes much of it has nothing to do with Kavanaugh himself.
“Congratulations and condolences,” Sasse said to Kavanaugh at the beginning of his remarks before giving examples of the harsh criticism that has been lobbed at President Donald Trump‘s nominee.
“Since July, you’ve been accused of hating women, hating children, hating clean air, wanting dirty water; you’ve been declared a quote-unquote ‘existential threat to our nation,'” Sasse rattled off.
“This drivel is patently absurd,” he said, “and I worry that we’re going to hear more of it over the next few days.”
Sasse insisted, “This stuff isn’t about Brett Kavanaugh. … The people who know you better, not those who are trying to get on TV, they tell a completely different story about who Brett Kavanaugh is,” noting the praise that Kavanaugh has received from those in the legal community.”
But this is nothing new to American politics, Sasse recalled.
“These confirmation hearings haven’t worked for 31 years in America,” he said. “This has been happening since Robert Bork.”
Why is this the case? Because people don’t seem to get what the Supreme Court is for, or how the justices operate, he suggested.
“The hysteria surrounding Supreme Court confirmation hearings is coming from the fact that we have a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the Supreme Court in American life now.”
He said that political discussion paints a picture of justices as “people wearing red and blue jerseys,” instead of jurists who make legal decisions based on existing laws instead of personal beliefs. If justices were political figures, Sasse said, he’d be in favor of passing a law to get rid of lifetime appointments.
“Until you introduce that legislation,” he said, addressing his fellow Senators, “I don’t believe you really want the Supreme Court to be a politicized body, though that’s they way we constantly talk about it now.”
Sasse went on to excoriate Congress for being the cause of much of the current state of affairs, blaming the Senate and House for shirking their responsibilities by punting most of the real work to federal agencies in the executive branch, or failing to take action on hot-button issues so they end up before the Supreme Court.
“This body is the political branch where policy-making fights should happen,” he said about Congress.
Sasse said that Supreme Court justices are not there to set policy or act based on their political beliefs or represent parties. They’re there to put all of that aside.
“The question before us is whether or not [Kavanaugh] has the temperament and the character to take his policy views and political preferences and put them in a box marked ‘irrelevant,’ and set it aside every morning when he puts on the black robe,” Sasse said.
“If you don’t think he does, vote no. If you do, stop the charades.”
[Image via PBS screengrab]