WASHINGTON – Judge Brett Kavanaugh, speaking with Fox News’s Martha MacCallum on Monday, vowed: “I’m not going anywhere.”
It meant he will neither withdraw nor surrender, but will fight through the nomination process even as Democrats release, one by one, thinly sourced, tightly held allegations of what they say is Kavanaugh’s pattern of extreme drunkenness and sexual assault when he was younger.
It is all a part of an apparent strategy by Senate Democrats, bolstered by the momentum of the #MeToo movement, to take down Kavanaugh, win back control of the Senate in the upcoming midterm elections, and then block the entire Trump lineup of potential Supreme Court picks.
“All we have to do is unite our 49 Democrats and get one, one Republican, to agree to vote no,” former Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager Brian Fallon recently said.
There are 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. They are unanimously opposed to Kavanaugh. With only 11 Republicans on the committee, all eyes were on undecided Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., as he took to the Senate floor Thursday, on the eve of what could likely be riveting testimony of accuser and accused.
“I do not believe the claim of sexual assault is invalid because a 15-year-old girl did not promptly report the assault to authorities as the president of the United States said two days ago,” Flake said.
But, he added, “Nor is one of them a proven sex criminal as has been circulating on the left side of the internet. These are human beings with families and children, each is suffering through an ugly process that we have created.”
If Kavanaugh is defeated, sources tell Fox News the White House is prepared with a plan B, assuming Republicans maintain control of the Senate.
It includes five U.S. Appellate Court justices, each of whom has met personally with President Trump as part of the interview process for the present high court vacancy.
Among them: 46-year-old Amy Coney Barrett. As a devout Roman Catholic, she is seen as toxic to some Democrats. In a confirmation hearing for her appointment to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said of her Catholicism, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”
Barrett’s response was measured. “If you’re asking whether I take my Catholic faith seriously, I do, though I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge,” she said.
Raymond Kethledge, 51, has a solidly conservative record. He ruled to restrict the collection of dues from public sector unions, and ruled the IRS was politically biased against the Tea Party.
Democrats have said 49-year-old Judge Joan Larsen poses another threat to Roe v. Wade. She wrote, quote: “In the case of abortion, the constitutional right was first formally articulated by the Supreme Court itself, not by the citizenry.”
Amul Thapar, 49, would be the first Asian or Indian-American judge to sit on the Supreme Court. He once sentenced a nun, who broke into the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee protesting nuclear power, to three years in jail, later overturned on appeal.
And, Judge Thomas Hardiman has vigorously embraced judicial restraint, once writing that his place is “not to upset the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives.”
If any of them is willing to come before the committee, that judge likely will face a different but still-punishing gauntlet that Kavanaugh has run.
That in turn may lead angry Republicans to consider another option: dropping the hearings. They are not constitutionally required in the Senate’s role of advice and consent. It was only when Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Supreme Court justice, was nominated in 1916, that the Senate Judiciary Committee started asking the nominee questions. It was the first shot in what has become all-out war on Capitol Hill.