Casualty Lists From the Kavanaugh Battle

Casualty Lists From the Kavanaugh Battle

By Patrick J. Buchanan

After a 50-year siege, the great strategic fortress of liberalism has fallen. With the elevation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court seems secure for constitutionalism — perhaps for decades.

The shrieks from the gallery of the Senate chamber as the vote came in on Saturday, and the sight of that bawling mob clawing at the doors of the Supreme Court as the new justice took his oath, confirm it.

The Democratic Party has sustained a historic defeat.

And the triumph is President Trump’s.

To unite the party whose nomination he had won, Donald Trump pledged to select his high court nominees from lists prepared by such judicial conservatives as the Federalist Society. He kept his word and, in the battle for Kavanaugh, he led from the front, even mocking the credibility of the primary accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

Trump has achieved what every GOP president has hoped to do since the summer of ’68, when a small group of GOP senators, led by Bob Griffin of Michigan, frustrated and then foiled a LBJ-Earl Warren plot to elevate LBJ crony Abe Fortas to chief justice in order to keep a future President Nixon from naming Warren’s successor.

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Sharing the honors with Trump is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Throughout 2016, McConnell took heat for refusing to hold a hearing on Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, to fill the chair of Justice Antonin Scalia, who had died earlier that year.

In 2017, McConnell used Harry Reid’s “nuclear option” to end filibusters for Supreme Court nominations, and then got Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed 54-45.

Last week, in one of the closest and most brutal court battles in Senate history, McConnell kept his troops united, losing only Sen. Lisa Murkowski, to put Kavanaugh on the court by 50-48. McConnell will enter the history books as the Senate architect of the recapture of the Supreme Court for constitutionalism.

This was a huge victory for conservatism and for the Republican Party. And the presence on the court of octogenarian liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both appointed by Bill Clinton, suggests that McConnell may have an opportunity to ensure the endurance of his great achievement.

The ferocity and ugliness of the attacks on Kavanaugh united Republicans to stand as one against what a savage Senate minority was trying to do to kill the nomination. And at battle’s end, the GOP is more energized than it has been all year for this fall’s election.

How united is the GOP? Conservatives are hailing the contributions of Sens. Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, who delivered a masterful summation of the Kavanaugh case Saturday afternoon.

For the Democratic Party, the Kavanaugh battle was the Little Bighorn, as seen from General Custer’s point of view.

Unable to derail the judge during the regular confirmation process, they lay in the weeds until it was over, and then sandbagged the judge by leaking to The Washington Post a confidential letter Dr. Ford did not want released.

They thus forced a public hearing of charges of attempted rape against a nominee, demanded the FBI investigate all charges of sexual misconduct when Kavanaugh was a teenager, and ended up losing anyway.

Then the Dems watched protesters dishonor the Senate in which they serve by screaming from the gallery. It was among the lowest moments in the modern history of the Senate, and it was the Democratic minority that took it down to that depth.

Understandably, they are a bitter lot today.

And the #MeToo movement has been set back. For many of its champions were, in Kavanaugh’s case, demanding a suspension of the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” and calling for the judge’s rejection in disgrace, based solely on their belief in a wholly uncorroborated 36-year-old story.

So where are we going now?

While Republicans are united and celebrating a great victory, the left and its media auxiliary are seething with rage and doubly determined to deliver payback in the elections four weeks away, where Democrats could pick up the two dozen seats needed to recapture the House.

Should they do so, however, they will face two years of frustration and failure. For the enactment of any major element of their liberal agenda — a $15 minimum wage, “Medicare-for-all” — would die in a Republican Senate, or in the Oval Office where it would face an inevitable veto by Trump.

So, what does 2019 look like, if Democrats capture the House?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A House Judiciary Committee headed by New York’s Jerrold Nadler who is already howling for impeachment hearings on both Kavanaugh and Trump.

And, by spring, a host of presidential candidates, none of whom looks terribly formidable, led by Cory (“I am Spartacus”) Booker, trooping through Iowa and New Hampshire, trashing President Trump (and each other), and offering themselves as the answer to America’s problems.

Bring it on!

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Is a Trump Court in the Making?

Is a Trump Court in the Making?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

If Mitch McConnell’s Senate can confirm his new nominee for the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump may have completed the capture of all three branches of the U.S. government for the Republican Party.

Not bad for a rookie.

And the lamentations on the left are surely justified.

For liberalism’s great strategic ally and asset of 60 years, the judicial dictatorship erected by Earl Warren and associates, may be about to fall.

Judicial supremacy may be on the way out.

Another constitutionalist on the court, in the tradition of Antonin Scalia, could ring down the curtain on the social revolution the court has been imposing since the salad days of Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Among the changes Warren’s court and its successors succeeded in imposing: The de-Christianization of all public institutions in America. The social war of the 1970s over forced busing for racial balance in the public schools. The creation, ex nihilo, of new constitutional rights, first to an abortion, and then to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

But while the confirmation of a new Trump justice may bring an end to the revolution, it will return power to where it belongs in a constitutional republic, with elected legislators and elected executives.

There will not likely be any sudden and radical rollback of changes wrought in six decades. For some of those changes have become embedded in the public consciousness as the new normal, and will endure.

Roe v. Wade may be challenged. But even if overturned, states like New York and California, which had liberalized abortion laws before Roe, are not likely to re-criminalize it.

Affirmative action, however, racial discrimination against white males to promote diversity, may be on the chopping block.

Why did it take until Trump to restore constitutionalism to the Supreme Court, when the Warren Court had been a blazing issue since the 1950s and Republicans held the presidency for 28 years from 1968 to 2016, and had managed to elevate 12 justices?

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Answer: Every GOP president save Bush II, has appointed justices who grew to believe the court had a right to remake America to conform to their image of the ideal liberal democracy. And they so acted.

Said Ike ruefully on his retirement: Two of my worst mistakes are sitting up there on the Supreme Court.

The two were Warren, who, as California’s governor, had pushed to put Japanese-Americans in concentration camps in World War II, and William Brennan, the most radical justice to sit in over half a century.

Nixon came to office committed to rein in the court by naming “strict constructionists.” Yet three of the four justices he named would vote for Roe v. Wade in 1973. Harry Blackmun, whom Nixon rushed onto the bench after his Southern nominees Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell were trashed and rejected, became the author of Roe.

Nixon’s fourth nominee, William Rehnquist, was his best, a brilliant jurist whom Reagan himself would elevate to chief justice.

Gerald Ford’s sole nominee, John Paul Stevens, confirmed 97-0 in the Senate, turned left soon after his confirmation to join Blackmun.

Reagan named Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman, and Scalia.

But when his effort to elevate Judge Robert Bork failed, he turned to Anthony Kennedy of California, whose seat Trump is filling today.

Over 30 years, Kennedy’s vote proved decisive in 5-4 decisions to uphold Roe, to discover homosexuality as a constitutional right, and to raise same-sex unions to the legal level of traditional marriage.

George H.W. Bush’s first choice was David Souter, who also turned left to join the liberal bloc. Bush I got it right on his second try in 1991, naming the constitutionalist Clarence Thomas.

As for George W. Bush, he chose John Roberts as Chief Justice to succeed Rehnquist and then Sam Alito as associate justice.

Thus, of 15 justices Republican Presidents have named since World War II, five — Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens and Souter — became liberal activists. Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor, both Reagan choices, became swing justices and voted with the court’s liberals on critical social issues.

Democratic presidents have done far better by their constituents.

Of seven justices named by LBJ, Clinton and Obama, every one — Thurgood Marshall, Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor — turned out to be predictably and consistently liberal.

Clearly, the advisers to George W. Bush and President Trump looked back at the successes and the failures of previous GOP presidents, and have done a far better job of vetting nominees. They reached outside for counsel.

It was Trump’s 2016 pledge to draw his nominees to the high court from a list of 20 judges and scholars supplied by the Federalist Society that reassured conservatives and helped him unite his party and get elected.

On the issue of judicial nominees and justices to the Supreme Court, Trump has kept his word.

And the next Supreme Court may one day be called the Trump Court.

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How Berkeley Birthed the Right

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In December 1964, a Silver Age of American liberalism, to rival the Golden Age of FDR and the New Deal, seemed to be upon us.

Barry Goldwater had been crushed in a 44-state landslide and the GOP reduced to half the size of the Democratic Party, with but 140 seats in the House and 32 in the Senate.

The Supreme Court of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the most liberal in history, was on a roll, and LBJ was virtually unopposed as he went about ramming his Great Society through Congress.

The left had it all. But then they blew it, beginning at Berkeley.

Protests, sit-ins, the holding of cops hostage in patrol cars — went on for weeks to force the University of California, Berkeley, to grant “free speech,” and then “filthy speech” rights everywhere on campus.

Students postured as revolutionaries at the barricades, and the Academic Senate, consisting of all tenured faculty, voted 824-115 to support all Free Speech Movement demands, while cravenly declining to vote to condemn the tactics used.

Middle America saw the students differently — as overprivileged children engaged in a tantrum at the most prestigious school in the finest university system in the freest nation on earth.

Here is how their leader Mario Savio described the prison-like conditions his fellow students had to endure on the Berkeley campus in 1964:

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

To borrow from Oscar Wilde, it takes a heart of stone to read Mario’s wailing — without laughing.

As I wondered in an editorial in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat that week, “If there is so much restriction of speech on the campus, how it is that a few yards from Sproul Hall there is a Young Socialist League poster complaining of ‘American Aggression in the Congo’ and calling on students to support ‘the Congolese rebels.'”

Yet Berkeley proved a godsend to a dispirited right.

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In 1966, Ronald Reagan would beat Berkeley like a drum in his run for governor, calling the campus, “a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters and sex deviants.”

Reagan relished entertaining his populist following by mocking San Francisco Democrats. “A hippie,” said the Gipper, “looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.”

More seriously, the radicalism, intolerance, arrogance and fanaticism of the far left in the ’60s and ’70s helped to revive the Republican Party and bring it victories in five of the next six presidential elections.

In 1964, neither Nixon nor Reagan appeared to have a bright future. But after Berkeley, both captured the presidency twice. And both benefited mightily from denouncing rioting students, even as liberalism suffered from its perceived association with them.

Which brings us to Berkeley today.

Last week, columnist and best-selling author Ann Coulter was forced to cancel her speech at Berkeley. Her security could not be guaranteed by the university.

In February, a speech of Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos also was canceled out of safety concerns after campus protesters hurled smoke bombs, broke windows and started a bonfire. The decision was made two hours before the event, as a crowd of 1,500 had gathered outside the venue.

The recent attacks on Charles Murray at Middlebury College and Heather Mac Donald at Claremont McKenna call to mind an event from three decades before Berkeley ’64.

On Dec. 5, 1930, German moviegoers flocked to Berlin’s Mozart Hall to see the Hollywood film, “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Some 150 Brownshirts, led by Joseph Goebbels, entered the theater, tossed stink bombs from the balcony, threw sneezing powder in the air and released mice. Theaters pulled that classic anti-war movie.

That same sense of moral certitude that cannot abide dissent to its dogmatic truths is on display in America today, as it was in Germany in the early 1930s. We are on a familiar slippery slope.

First come the marches and demonstrations. Then the assertion of the right to civil disobedience, to break the law for a higher cause by blocking streets and highways. Then comes the confronting of cops, the smashing of windows, the fistfights, the throwing of stones – as in Portland on May Day.

And, now, the shouting down of campus speakers.

The rage and resentment of the left at its rejection in 2016 are palpable. Sometimes this fever passes peacefully, as in the “Cooling of America” in the 1970s. And sometimes it doesn’t.

But to have crowds of left and right coming out to confront one another violently, in a country whose citizens possess 300 million guns, is probably not a good idea.

Nixon, LBJ & the First Shots in the Judges’ War

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The Democrats’ drive to defeat Neil Gorsuch is the latest battle in a 50-year war for control of the Supreme Court — a war that began with a conspiracy against Richard Nixon by Chief Justice Earl Warren, Justice Abe Fortas and Lyndon Johnson.

By June 1968, Nixon, having swept his primaries, was cruising to the nomination and probable victory in November.

The establishment was aghast.

Warren’s bitterness toward Nixon dated to their California days. Sen. Nixon had worked behind the scenes for Ike’s nomination in 1952, though Gov. Warren was California’s favorite son. Warren had been crushed and humiliated — but Nixon was rewarded with the vice presidency.

Now, 16 years later, the chief justice was ready to step down, but desperately did not want his nemesis Nixon choosing his successor.

So, Warren and LBJ colluded in a plot. Warren announced his resignation from the court contingent on Senate confirmation of his successor. LBJ then named Warren’s ally and his own longtime crony, Fortas, to succeed Warren.

The fix was in. Nixon was boxed, and adopted a posture of benign neutrality on Fortas’ elevation, having been warned by future Secretary of State Bill Rogers that he would be accused of anti-Semitism if he blocked the first Jewish chief justice.

With Nixon’s knowledge, some of us on his staff ignored his neutrality posture and urged Senate conservatives to block Fortas.

Foremost among these was Strom Thurmond, who needed little prodding, and who was provided with “Flaming Creatures,” a graphic film of transvestite sex which Fortas, alone among the nine justices, had deemed acceptable for public viewing.

Senators were invited to a closed room for a screening. Some walked out wobbly. And as I told friend Sim Fentress of Time, the “Fortas Film Festival” was going to do in our new chief justice.

And so it did. Fortas was rejected in early October. In May 1969, President Nixon named Judge Warren Burger to succeed Earl Warren.

By that May also, Attorney General John Mitchell had learned that Fortas was on a $20,000-a-year secret retainer from swindler Louis Wolfson. Mitchell went to see Warren to suggest that his friend Abe resign, rather than be impeached. Fortas got the message.

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Now, with a second vacancy, Nixon, to honor his promise to select a Southerner, chose Harvard Law grad and Chief Judge of the 4th Circuit Clement Haynsworth, the youngest chief judge in the nation.

Joe Rauh, counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, instantly branded Haynsworth a “hard-core segregationist” and liberal Democrats painted him as a grifter steeped in petty corruption, whose court decisions were steered by his stock portfolio.

This was all trash talk. Haynsworth had released black militant H. Rap Brown from jail, without requiring him to post bail, and ruled that lawyers for black defendants had a right to discover whether jurors belonged to any organizations known for bias against blacks.

No matter. Haynsworth was depicted as a corrupt and racist judge and liberal Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans united to vote him down. But while painful to the judge, his vilification by the left had split the nation along a new fault line.

Nixon’s defiant response: He sent another Southern judge up to the Senate, G. Harrold Carswell. Less distinguished than Haynsworth, Carswell got the same treatment. In a statement he had me write, Nixon tore into the Senate for an “act of regional discrimination” against the South.

While losing Beltway battles, we were winning the bigger war.

Nixon then, fatefully, sent up a third nominee, Judge Harry Blackmun of Minnesota, who was approved 94-0.

Suddenly, in 1971, there were two more openings, as Justices Hugo Black, FDR man and former Klansman, and John Harlan resigned.

Nixon called to tell me he was sending up the first woman, a state judge from California, along with an Arkansas bond lawyer.

The heart sank. But Divine Providence intervened.

The American Bar Association voted 11-1 that Mildred Lillie was “not-qualified” and Herschel Friday got a split decision — six “not-qualified” votes and six “barely qualified.”

Panic ensued. Nixon swiftly pivoted to Lewis Powell, ex-head of the ABA, and William Rehnquist, a brilliant young conservative and legal scholar, whom Reagan would elevate to chief justice when Burger retired.

Three days after Nixon’s second inaugural, in Roe v. Wade, written by Blackmun, the court declared the right to an abortion had been hidden in the Constitution, though it had been a crime in every state when Earl Warren was appointed by Ike.

All doubt was now removed. The Supreme Court was using its right to declare what the law says and what the Constitution means — to reshape America in the image of Earl Warren and his judicial clones.

Realization that these were now the stakes, and power the issue, is the reason why Reagan nominee Robert Bork was savaged, and Bush I nominee Clarence Thomas was brutalized.

Behind the hostility to the mild-mannered and decent Neil Gorsuch lies the same malevolence that lynched Clement Haynsworth.