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The Kavanaugh Kourt

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Recently, Yglesias reminded us about the liberals who played Pierre Laval as the neoconfederate takeover of the Court became consolidated:

Dahila Lithwick is the opposite of the Lisa Blatt “liberal,” and this piece is stunningly good:

Kavanaugh is now installed for a lifetime at the highest court in the land. Ford is still unable to resume her life or work for fear of death threats. And the only thing the hearings resolved conclusively is that Senate Republicans couldn’t be bothered to figure out what happened that summer of 1982, or in the summers and jobs and weekends that followed. In the year-plus since, I have given many speeches in rooms full of women who still have no idea what actually happened in that hearing room that day, or why a parody of an FBI investigation was allowed to substitute for fact-finding, or why Debbie Ramirez and her Yale classmates were never even taken seriously, and whythreebooks so far and twomore books to come are doing the work of fact-finding that government couldn’t be bothered to undertake. Women I meet every week assure me that they are never going to feel perfectly safe again, which makes my son somewhat prescient. Two out of the nine sitting justices have credibly been accused of sexual impropriety against women. They will be deciding fundamental questions about women’s liberty and autonomy, having both vowed to get even for what they were “put through” when we tried to assess whether they were worthy of the privilege and honor of a seat on the highest court in the country.

[…]

That is the problem with power: It incentivizes forgiveness and forgetting. It’s why the dozens of ethics complaints filed after the Kavanaugh hearings complaining about the judge’s behavior have been easily buried in a bottomless file of appeasement, on the grounds that he’s been seated and it’s too late. The problem with power is that there is no speaking truth to it when it holds all the cards. And now, given a lifetime appointment to a position that is checked by no one, Washington, the clerkship machinery, the cocktail party circuit, the elite academy all have a vested interest in getting over it and the public performance of getting over it. And a year perhaps seems a reasonable time stamp for that to begin.

The problem with power is that Brett Kavanaugh now has a monopoly on normalization, letting bygones be bygones, and turning the page. American women also have to decide whether to get over it or to invite more recriminations. That is, for those keeping track, the very definition of an abusive relationship. You stick around hoping that he’s changed, or that he didn’t mean it, or that if you don’t anger him again, maybe it’ll all be fine when the court hears the game-changing abortion appeal this year.

I wish we could have learned what Brett Kavanaugh has actually done, said, worked on, enabled, covered for, empowered. Perhaps the next book will reveal more. Perhaps the one after that. The collective public conclusion of the most recent book, by Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin, seems to be that he was a sloppy, reckless, drunk youth who has largely become better, and that it is perhaps unfair to hold men to standards that we somehow always forgive when they are still boys. We didn’t get to have that conversation either. And the people who most deserve to decide whether he is, in fact, cured of these alleged acts of youthful carelessness, violence, and predation—the women who say he has harmed them—have, other than Ford, neither been heard nor recognized. I’m not certain they subscribe to the narrative that he was a naughty boy now recovered. He spent his confirmation hearing erasing them, and his boosters and fans have made their life since unbearable. At any rate, they are also powerless, now, to change what has occurred.

It is not my job to decide if Brett Kavanaugh is guilty. It’s impossible for me to do so with incomplete information, and with no process for testing competing facts. But it’s certainly not my job to exonerate him because it’s good for his career, or for mine, or for the future of an independent judiciary. Picking up an oar to help America get over its sins without allowing for truth, apology, or reconciliation has not generally been good for the pursuit of justice. Our attempts to get over CIA torture policies or the Iraq war or anything else don’t bring us closer to truth and reconciliation. They just make it feel better—until they do not. And we have all spent far too much of the past three years trying to tell ourselves that everything is OK when it most certainly is not normal, not OK, and not worth getting over.

That last sentence cannot be repeated enough.

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