Retired Justice John Paul Stevens Against Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on October 5th, 2018

Boca Raton, Florida, USA : Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a Republican, has withdrawn his support for Brett Kavanaugh: “I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.” Justice John Paul Stevens said on Thursday that Brett Kavanaugh, who Stevens once lauded in one of his books, does not belong on the Supreme Court.

Speaking to a crowd of retirees in Boca Raton, Stevens, 98, said Kavanaugh’s performance during a recent Senate confirmation hearing suggested that he lacks the temperament for the job.

Stevens, a lifelong Republican who is known for falling on the liberal side of several judicial rulings, praised Kavanaugh and one of his rulings on a political contribution case in the 2014 book “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

“At that time, I thought (Kavanaugh) had the qualifications for the Supreme Court should he be selected,” Stevens said. “I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability … I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.”

Commentators, Stevens said, have argued that Kavanaugh’s blistering testimony during a Sept. 27 hearing on sexual misconduct allegations demonstrated a potential for political bias should he serve on the Supreme Court.

“I think there’s merit to that criticism and I think the senators should really pay attention that,” Stevens said at a closed event hosted by retirement group, The Institute for Learning in Retirement.

Stevens, who retired in 2010 after 35 years on the bench, stands as one of the longest-serving justices in history. Nominated by President Gerald Ford, Stevens was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

“That’s not happening any time soon,” moderator Frank Cerabino, of The Palm Beach Post, joked about a unanimous Senate confirmation.

Stevens decried the partisan politics that have shrouded the judiciary branch in recent years.

As a justice, Stevens was one of three dissenting votes in the Bush v. Gore case that ordered Florida to end the ballot recount in the disputed presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, and effectively propelled Bush to the presidency.

“Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is clear,” Stevens wrote in the strongly worded dissent. “It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as impartial guardian of the rule of law.”

Stevens said political leaders and the court have failed to repair the nation’s confidence in the judicial branch’s separation from the president and the Legislature.

“I think it’s worse, I regret to say it,” he said.

Since his retirement, Stevens has penned a handful of opinion pieces for the New York Times calling for dramatic liberal reform. Following the Parkland high school shooting, Stevens, a Broward County resident, called for the repeal of the Second Amendment.

While Stevens has famously sided with Democratic colleagues on topics including Guantanamo Bay prisoner rights and political contributions, he’s far from ideologically pure.

He criticized the First Amendment flag-burning case in 1989, and Thursday stood by the stance that the act of flag-burning should be illegal.

When Cerabino asked Stevens why some justices, Stevens included, have sided with liberals despite being nominated by conservatives, Stevens replied that he’s never been “a political person.”

Many event attendees of opposite political affiliations said Stevens stands as a relic of a bygone era, when justices were not apparently beholden to the presidents who nominate them.

“Unfortunately, we live in an era of tunnel vision,” said Chuck Brenner, a Democrat from Jupiter. “It’s all so one-sided.”

Brenner agreed with Stevens that Kavanaugh’s “demeanor” was not befitting of a Supreme Court justice.

Stephen Udell, a Republican from Boca Raton, agreed that politics played a heavy hand in Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but disagreed on the reason why.

“The attacks on Kavanaugh are politics, but they’ve evolved to almost brutality like the Roman Colosseum,” Udell said.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin voting on Kavanaugh’s confirmation Friday, a day after the FBI concluded an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. Final votes are on Saturday. The allegations were made by California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford and former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez.

Ford gave an emotional testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, telling senators she was “100 percent” certain that Kavanaugh assaulted her when he was a 17-year-old student at Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland.

Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, denied the allegations, delivering a fiery defense that opened with accusations that Ford’s allegations were part of an elaborate political coup d’état. Kavanaugh called the dark allegations “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” referring to the time he spent working for independent counsel Ken Starr during the investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s finances, which led to the president’s impeachment.

The FBI has completed its supplemental report on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and sent it to the Senate, where senators began to view it Thursday in a secure room at the Capitol.
White House spokesman Raj Shah tweeted early Thursday that the White House is fully confident that the Senate will vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., set a cloture vote on the nomination for Friday, which would allow for a confirmation vote on Saturday.

Senators and select staff members started to review the materials at a sensitive compartmented information facility. The one-hour sessions alternate between political party with Republicans seeing the report first.

Anonymous sources said that the report found no corroboration of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. After being briefed by his staff on Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement, “There’s nothing in [the report] that we didn’t already know.”

The Times spoke with an anonymous official briefed on the FBI review, who said the agency contacted 10 people and interviewed nine of them. The report consists of interview summaries. The FBI did not interview Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault during a 1980s high school party. Nor did the bureau interview Kavanaugh, who denies the allegations.

The FBI reportedly focused on the sexual assault described by Ford and another incident described by former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez, who has said Kavanaugh exposed himself during a drinking party and thrust his genitals in her face. Ramirez is said to be among the people interviewed by the FBI.

One person told the Post that he had overheard someone tearfully talking about an incident at Yale involving a fake penis and someone exposing himself, but when he contacted the FBI he was put on hold so long that he submitted the information through the agency’s website. That individual said he had not received a response as of Wednesday.

A lawyer told the Post that he represented a person who wanted to tell the FBI about a conversation with Ramirez about an incident at Yale. The lawyer, Alan Abramson, said he had not heard back from the FBI.

Lawyers for Ford said Wednesday their client had made a tremendous sacrifice in coming forward, “but those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”

More than 1,200 law professors are expressing their misgivings about Kavanaugh in a letter they plan to present to the Senate on Thursday. The law professors who have signed the letter can be seen in this updated list compiled by the Times.

The law professors say in the letter that Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Committee testimony regarding Ford’s sexual assault allegation “displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.” Law.com and the Post have coverage.

“Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory, and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to questioners,” the law professors wrote.

Video : Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said that after seeing Judge Kavanaugh’s performance during the Senate hearings he had changed his mind about supporting the nominee.

EARLIER : Hundreds Arrested In Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation Protests

Washington, D.C., USA : U.S. Capitol Police said 239 people were arrested on Thursday for unlawfully demonstrating in the Philip A. Hart Senate Office Building against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh ‘s confirmation as he faces accusations of s****l assault.

Among those detained were comedian Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajkowski.

“Today I was arrested protesting the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a man who has been accused by multiple women of s****l assault. Men who hurt women can no longer be placed in positions of power,” Ratajkowski wrote on Twitter.

The demonstrators, which included survivors of s****l assault, stood outside the U.S. Supreme Court earlier in the day, calling on senators to believe survivors.

After reviewing the FBI’s investigative report Thursday on Kavanaugh, the Senate judiciary committee’s chairman said he didn’t see any firm conclusions about accusations against the appellate court judge.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said there is nothing new in the FBI report and again called for the upper chamber to move forward with a confirmation vote for President Donald Trump’s second high court appointment.

The Senate was supposed to vote last week, but postponed the roll call so the bureau could investigate claims of s****l assault against Kavanaugh from his days as a high school and college student in the early 1980s.

“I’ve now received a committee briefing on the FBI’s supplemental to Judge Kavanaugh’s background investigation file. There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know,” Grassley said in a statement. “These uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations.”

The FBI report was delivered to Senate leaders and the White House overnight, and all members of the Senate were given a chance to review it Thursday morning.

Democrats said the report had a limited scope, Ford and Kavanaugh were not interviewed, and that the White House blocked documents, making the investigation incomplete. Democrats also called for the report to be made public. The report was confidential with one copy being circulated around for 100 senators.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said after reviewing the report that he disagrees with Grassley that there’s no hint of misconduct.

“We had many fears that this was a very limited process that would constrain the FBI from getting all the facts,” Schumer said in a press conference. “Having received a thorough briefing on the documents, those fears have been realized.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on Kavanaugh’s nomination as senators prepared to view the report. The Kentucky Republican announced the filing Wednesday night and set a procedural vote Friday to advance the nomination. A full Senate vote could follow.

Early Thursday, the White House acknowledged the receipt of the FBI report and the president reiterated support for Kavanaugh.

“This is now the 7th. time the FBI has investigated Judge Kavanaugh. If we made it 100, it would still not be good enough for the Obstructionist Democrats,” Trump tweeted Thursday.

“This is the last addition to the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history,” White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said. “With this additional information, the White House is fully confident the Senate will cote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

Only one copy of the file was given to the senators to share among themselves. If all 100 senators took 30 minutes each to review it, it would take more than 50 hours to complete the examination — meaning a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination could still be days away.

Republican aides said the process of alternating a single copy among Republicans and Democrats is standard practice for judicial nominees, and a 2009 memorandum bars copying FBI background reports.

Chuck Schumer reiterated the call for the documents be made public with proper redaction. He also called for the White House to make public its directive to the FBI regarding the investigation.

“Why shouldn’t all of America see the facts?” he asked. “We believe it constrained the investigation from the get-go. The fact that there’s only one document in there for 100 senators is another example of constraining the ability of all senators and the American public to see the whole truth and nothing but.”

Republicans who have been on the fence about the Kavanaugh appointment said the investigation was thorough. That includes Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, who initially requested the investigation. He said, “We’ve seen no additional corroborating information.”

Wednesday, a new Gallup poll showed Americans are divided on Kavanaugh’s confirmation — 46 percent in favor, 45 percent opposed and 9 percent with no opinion.

The poll also showed the largest gap in approval for a Supreme Court nominee Gallup has measured to date — 84 percent of Republicans and just 13 percent of Democrats in favor.

Independents were closely split with 46 percent opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation and 43 percent approving.

Gallup interviewed nearly 1,500 people for the survey, which has a margin of error of 3 points.

Trump touted the poll results on Twitter late Wednesday.

“Wow, such enthusiasm and energy for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Look at the Energy, look at the Polls. Something very big is happening. He is a fine man and a great intellect. The country is with him all the way,” Trump wrote.

“The harsh and unfair treatment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is having an incredible upward impact on voters. The PEOPLE get it far better than the politicians. Most importantly, this great life cannot be ruined by mean & despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations!”

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Bamidele Ogunberu

Bamidele Ogunberu

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