“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension that is as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow. Between science and superstition. And it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.” – The opening to the TV show “The Twilight Zone,” written and hosted by Rod Serling
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh both invoked the legendary black-and-white TV show “The Twilight Zone” when describing this week’s surreal tableau.
“We’re in the Twilight Zone when it comes to Kavanaugh,” said Graham to Fox News on Monday night.
Then the White House released this statement from Kavanaugh after the allegations by Julie Swetnick surfaced:
“This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened,” said Kavanaugh.
The title of Rod Serling’s macabre fantasy anthology has long been part of the American vernacular. But interestingly, the phrase first entered the American consciousness via a concurring opinion in a seminal Supreme Court case.
In 1952, the High Court limited the powers of the presidency to seize private property in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer, colloquially called “Youngstown Steel.” The decision rebuffed President Harry Truman. However, the concurring opinion penned by Justice Robert Jackson proved to be critical to understanding the boundaries of presidential power. The justices held that the executive couldn’t seize private property unless expressly granted authority under the Constitution or by Congress.
In Youngstown Steel, Jackson wrote that “there is a zone of twilight” where the executive and legislative branches may have “concurrent authority, or in which its distribution is uncertain.”
Jackson asserted that presidential power plummets to “its lowest ebb when he takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress.”
Serling’s show, “The Twilight Zone,” hit the airwaves a few years later on CBS.
It’s unknown what Kavanaugh thinks of the old, paranormal program. But it’s clear there may be a link between Kavanaugh and “the zone of twilight.”
At Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, asked the judge about his take on U.S. v. Nixon. Kavanaugh answered that he believed U.S. v. Nixon was “one of the four greatest moments in Supreme Court history.”
Kavanaugh added that the four most important cases were “Marbury v. Madison, Youngstown Steel, Brown v. Board of Education and United States v. Richard Nixon.”
In other words, to quote Serling: “That’s the signpost up ahead. Your next stop: The Twilight Zone.”
Or, at least, in the case of Brett Kavanaugh, the “zone of twilight.”