In a blatantly partisan move that would continue to set precedents in the midst of our national political superstorm, Democrats have been very outspoken about the desire to impeach Justice Brett Kavanaugh from the bench of the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh has served on the Supreme Court for one year. The path to the bench was a difficult one for President Donald Trump's second Supreme Court appointee. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school. After the public dissection of both Kavanaugh's and Ford's lives concluded, Kavanaugh was confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 50-48, or 51.02%, the closest confirmation vote of any Supreme Court appointee in American history.
Attorneys tied to Democratic causes levied 83 ethics complaints against the new justice, all stemming from his nomination hearings. The complaints were dismissed by a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge in December, and in March the same 10th Circuit Court rejected another 20 appeals to reinstate the original 83 complaints. Democratic activists keep on plugging.
In truth, the lower courts have no authority to sanction a Supreme Court justice in any way. For the Supreme Court, a powerful part of its checks and balances is that it has no official code of conduct. Dissenting parties cannot attack a Supreme Court justice endlessly in court for supposed violations that, in truth, all emanate from a desire to see someone such as Kavanaugh or Clarence Thomas removed from the bench. At this point, political attacks on Supreme Court justices can only be words and the influencing of public opinion. The predators have no bite, not legally.
In a confounding recent situation, it has been leaked that New York Times reporters, publishing a book on Kavanaugh, have unearthed another allegation of inappropriate behavior, this time against a woman while Kavanaugh attended Yale University. There is a man who said he witnessed the inappropriate behavior, but he has declined to speak about it. The woman about whom the charge is based has also declined several interviews. Incredibly, her friends have told reporters that she doesn't even recall the incident. Therefore, the allegation is completely uncorroborated hearsay.
Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, and Elizabeth Warren have all called for Kavanaugh's impeachment.
A Supreme Court justice can indeed be impeached, as they, too, fall within the designation of the "all civil officers of the United States" impeachment guidelines in Article II, Section IV of the U.S. Constitution. They can be impeached for committing "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." But if the charges levied against Kavanaugh are true-and they have been repeatedly debunked-would the lascivious behavior of an immature, drunken, college-aged partygoer be a "high crime and misdemeanor"? Also, would an act that occurred over 30 years ago hold the same legal weight as grounds for impeachment?
Article III, Section I states that "civil officers" of the U.S. must hold heir positions in good behavior. Kavanaugh has done just that. None of the 83 ethics complaints describe an action that took place after he was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice. He has served "in good behavior."
The impeachment of a justice would work as it does for a president. The House of Representatives would have to vote to impeach and then the Senate would have to vote to convict. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached. Both lost the vote in the House, yet both retained their positions when the Senate did not vote to convict. Federal judges have been impeached and convicted, but none have come from the Supreme Court.
There has been a minor backlash from longtime Democrats in the Senate, squelching the exuberance of far-left Democrats. While leftist Democrats like Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) continue to "demand justice for survivors," veteran Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) urged his colleagues to "get real."
"We've got to get beyond this ‘impeachment is the answer to every problem.' It's not realistic," Durbin pleaded. "If that's how we are identified in Congress, as the impeachment Congress, we run the risk that people will feel we're ignoring the issues that mean a lot to them as families."
We now live in the antithesis of the "kinder, gentler nation" so hoped for at the twilight of the Reagan decade. These are different times, new times, even dangerous times. But of one thing we can be certain-actions teach acceptable behavior. The GOP has a mental (if not a literal) list of Democratic Party demands, strategies, and comments that have escalated the public discourse and democratic processes since the election of Trump in 2016.
If Democrats have pushed the envelope in all three areas, Republicans have re-learned what should now be acceptable behavior by a minority party. We do reap what we sow, but what grows from that may, for working-class Americans, be a political system gone rotten.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the "Midnight Writer News Show." His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com. He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication available from the AFP Online Store.