If the Democrats are feeling frustrated that Neil Gorsuch isn’t giving them any rope in which to hang himself with they really have no one to blame but themselves.
First and foremost they can start with the former Senator from Massachusetts Ted Kennedy.
In 1987, Robert Bork was nominated by Ronald Reagan to fill a vacant seat on the high court. Up until that point for the previous nigh 2 centruries the question before the Senate was, “Is this Judge worthy to be a Supreme Court Justice?” Senator Kennedy decided to all but single handedly toss out that notion and the character assassination that followed as Robert Bork answered the questions posed to him truly and fully is why current nominees to the post spend days all but nodding and smiling and saying nothing.
Robert Bork was a Yale Law School professor, Solicitor General, Acting Attorney General, and a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. To put it simply, he had the chops.
What doomed him though was that he didn’t BELIEVE in the same things that Ted Kennedy did.
So instead of questioning whether Judge Bork was qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice, Ted Kennedy questioned whether he would personally want Bork on the bench. The answer for the “Liberal Lion” was no. And that is when the knives came out.
Ted Kennedy didn’t even wait for the hearings, not 45 minutes after Reagan nominated Bork for the Supreme Court, Kennedy held a press conference and said this:
“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.”
The rapidity of Kennedy’s attack caught the White House flat footed and a response wasn’t forthcoming for 2 and a half months. By then the character assassins were in full swing and though Bork’s record showed nothing of the sort, he was labeled a dangerous extremist by his enemies. His video rental history was leaked (though nothing embarrassing was found) his reputation was attacked and the witch trial was on.
The hypocrisy with regards of the Democrats being objective was on full display at the time thanks to then-Senator Joe Biden.
Biden was the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and had voiced approval of a hypothetical Bork nomination during an interview in 1986. Yet when Bork was actually nominated in 1987 Biden reversed course and joined in with the mob of torch wielding Democrats.
The treatment of Bork and the attempts to villify him before, during and after his confirmation hearings is why nominees thereafter have all sidestepped answers, refusing to commit to publicly avowing their personal beliefs. They don’t want to be Borked.
According to Merriam Webster the definition of the verb Borked:
: to attack or defeat (a nominee or candidate for public office) unfairly through an organized campaign of harsh public criticism or vilification
The annexation of the Supreme Court to partisan politics can squarely be placed at the feet of Ted Kennedy and what he did to Robert Bork. And make no mistake, this was not about advice and consent of the Senate but rather the hijacking of the entire process by a radical Senator from Massachusetts who wouldn’t let a little thing like the truth or fairness get in the way of what he wanted.
Now, I have also heard and read about the gnashing of teeth by Democrats who said this seat shouldn’t even be available because Merrick Garland should have filled it during Obama’s final few months in office.
I direct you again to Joe Biden who completely disagrees…or at least he did when it was a Republican who might be nominating in his final year. From Senator Biden in 1992:
Given the unusual rancor that prevailed in the (Clarence) Thomas nomination, the need for some serious reevaluation of the nomination and confirmation process, and the overall level of bitterness that sadly infects our political system and this presidential campaign already, it is my view that the prospects for anything but conflagration with respect to a Supreme Court nomination this year are remote at best.
The problem with the Democrats is that they never seem to understand that when they jettison the rules and tradition, the Republicans, slow as they may be to do so, will eventually follow suit. What Democrats want is to be Partisan when the GOP nominates a SCOTUS pick, but for the GOP to defer to the President when he is a Democrat. The GOP has apparently decided that they are sick of following one sided rules.
The reality is that since basically everybody thought Hillary Clinton would win, Senator McConnell took a HUGE gamble not having the Senate confirm Garland. Senator McConnell’s gamble was the GOP’s to take under the Constitution, which gives the Senate the power to consent to President’s Supreme Court nominees. If it weren’t then Robert Bork would have sat on the bench instead of Anthony Kennedy.
McConnell’s gamble paid off, but had it not, we would not be reading columns by the left wing media about how Hillary should now confirm Garland because Obama’s nominee deserved a vote, we’d be reading columns by Progressives about how Hillary should nominate a much more Progressive SCOTUS nominee than Garland.
So let’s just drop the Garland stuff shall we. What the Republican’s did to Merrick Garland was a great deal more kind than what Ted Kennedy and his ilk did to Robert Bork.
Plus, if Hillary and the Democrats couldn’t leverage the Supreme Court vacancy to their own benefit that is on them.
Let’s get back to Gorsuch and his deft deflections from being trapped by any gotcha questions or giving any ammunition to Democrats for them to use to Bork him.
I all ready discussed the WHY nominees like Gorsuch avoid answering questions with concrete answers (they don’t want to get Borked) but now let us look at the HOW they can avoid answering the Senate.
For that Democrats need only look at themselves.
Once again we look to Sen. Joseph Biden when he chaired confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993. During the nomination he established certain rules for questioning nominees — rules that some of his fellow Democrats seem to have conveniently forgotten.
First off, many people think of Ginsburg as a sweet old lady on the Supreme Court. What they may have forgotten that, while a smart lawyer, she was a radical activist. A few of her views from her time with the ACLU are as follows: legalizing prostitution, against separate prisons for men and women, a constitutional right to polygamy.
Six years after what happened to Robert Bork, Republican’s wanted to know whether Ginsburg still held these views. Enter “The Biden Rule.”
So once again, Democrats create something that works for them at the time and then cry foul when it is used against them later, most recently with Neil Gorsuch.
Joe Biden was the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee for both Bork and Ginsburg. Answering questions about personal viewpoints was fine when the nominee was from a Republican President but such things were a big no-no when the President was a Democrat.
It’s the hypocrisy of it all that really is frustrating. That, and the fact that Democrats think that people are just going to forget history and overlook their actions.
As I watched Al Franken blunder his way through his time questioning Judge Gorsuch and trying to make the Gorsuch answer questions on personal beliefs rather than on judicial ones I am reminded of Ginsburg’s comment near the end of her nomination hearings:
“My own views and what I would do if I were sitting in the legislature are not relevant to the job for which you are considering me, which is the job of a judge.”
Again, a completely acceptable answer for Democrats…so long as it comes from a Democrat. Otherwise it apparently undermines the whole process.
I do not foresee any complication with Neil Gorsuch being sworn in as the next Justice of the Supreme Court.
So, if the Democrats have a problem with the process that is going to see that happen, they can thank Ted Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Joe Biden.
As the old saying goes, you made your bed, now lie in it.
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