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October 16 2018
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Oregon PP Leaders Condemn Kavanaugh Confirmation
by Oregon State Media, Inc.
  Sunday October 7, 2018 - 1:01 AM
 
The Senate just voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. By doing so, senators ignored the outpouring of opposition to Kavanaugh's nomination, evidence that he would gut Roe v. Wade if confirmed, allegations of sexual assault, questions about the honesty of his answers to questions under oath and serious concerns about his ability to be impartial and unbiased on the highest court of the land.

(near bottom of page, also see Opinion by Jennifer Finney Boylan - nytimes.com)

Today's vote followed misleading and deeply partisan remarks by Kavanaugh at last week's hearing on sexual assault allegations. The vote was scheduled despite an inadequate and incomplete FBI investigation that failed to interview numerous potential witnesses to the alleged instances of sexual violence.

"Our fight is far from over. No one will forget the hearings, the bravery of Dr. Ford or the blatant disregard for credible and believable testimony that without a doubt called into question whether or not Brett Kavanagh was fit to serve on the Supreme Court. Oregonians can join us in fighting back by voting NO on Ballot Measure 106 and NO on Knute Buehler, who remained silent for nearly three months on Kavanaugh's nomination. Women won't forget," said Emily McLain, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon.

"This confirmation will impact the fundamental rights of women and all Americans for generations to come. Thank you to each and every person for calling, sharing your story and speaking out. This is a grave disappointment, but we will not let it stop us from doing what we do every single day: provide care, no matter what," said Lisa A. Gardner, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon.

"In the past few weeks we have been proud to stand alongside thousands of survivors and allies across the country as people demonstrated and shared their stories. We believe survivors. We are disappointed, but we will not be deflated. We must all continue to speak out," said Anne Udall, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette.

Protesters — many of them women and sexual assault survivors — flooded Capitol Hill on Saturday, continuing weeks of mass protests against a nominee whose alleged history of sexual misconduct transformed a partisan debate over ideology into a cultural battle fueled by the #MeToo movement. Republicans condemned the demonstrators, some of whom interrupted the final vote with shouts as they were dragged out of the chamber, characterizing them as a special interest-funded "mob."

Kavanaugh was sworn in Saturday evening in a private ceremony, replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's swing vote on critical issues including same-sex marriage, abortion, and campaign finance. A 53-year-old former aide to President George W. Bush who's spent the last 12 years on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh will cement a conservative majority on the court likely for decades to come.

Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on stacking the Supreme Court with staunch conservatives, celebrated the vote on Saturday, tweeting, "I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court."

Democrats quickly expressed their fury as some lawmakers joined the protesters gathered outside the court, already indicating how the party intends to use Kavanaugh's confirmation to drive an energized base to the polls in November.

"Right, forever vigilant is always stronger than wrong, temporarily victorious," Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, tweeted shortly after the vote. "May our outrage get us out working."

After just under two months of protests and bitter partisan battles, Kavanaugh's confirmation was assured on Friday when the two remaining undecided senators — Susan Collins, a moderate Maine Republican, and Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat — announced they would vote to send the judge to the nation's highest court.

In a 45-minute address from the Senate floor on Friday, Collins lamented the divisiveness of the process, hoping that it had "finally hit rock bottom." The senator both defended Kavanaugh's judicial record and insisted that he should be presumed innocent of misconduct charges until proven guilty.

Manchin announced he would vote with the Republican majority as Collins concluded her floor speech, all but assuring the judge's confirmation.

In a symbol of the deep division over Kavanaugh, Collins' closest colleague and the only other remaining Republican centrist in the Senate, Lisa Murkowski, bucked her party and voted against advancing Kavanaugh's nomination on Friday. The pro-choice Republican remained undecided until the day of the cloture vote, but concluded that Kavanaugh's confirmation would undermine the public's confidence in the court.

On Saturday, Murkowski paired her vote with that of Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who intended to vote "yes" on Kavanaugh but missed the proceedings while he attended his daughter's wedding. Murkowski asked that her vote instead be marked as "present," leaving the final outcome unchanged.

Protestors rally against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday. Protestors rally against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday. Drew Angerer/Getty Images A bitter and tumultuous confirmation battle Kavanaugh's nomination was protested since the beginning by Democrats and liberal activists who oppose the judge's conservative record on key issues including abortion, environmental protection, and presidential powers. But the fight escalated dramatically after three women came forward to publicly accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct last month.

In her riveting appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford delivered testimony that came close to derailing Kavanaugh's confirmation. And Democrats have maintained that the FBI's investigation into the misconduct claims against Kavanaugh was overly limited by the White House.

Democrats have also accused the nominee of lying under oath, pointing to instances in which the judge appeared to either mislead or make false statements to the Judiciary Committee about a range of issues, including his drinking habits and social life in high school and college and his work in the Bush White House.

Kavanaugh, who denied all of the misconduct allegations, called the attacks on his nomination a "calculated and orchestrated political hit" devised by Democrats in combative and emotional testimony that made many, including even some Republicans, question his temperament and political impartiality.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Alex Wong/Getty Images Concerns about public confidence in the court Experts across the political spectrum worry that Kavanaugh's confirmation to the court will further undermine public confidence in the institution, as the court loses its swing vote and the conservative majority includes two men credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

Alicia Bannon, senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, called the likely erosion of trust in the judicial branch "dangerous and damaging" to democracy.

"It's vitally important that the people who are on the losing side of a case still accept that they have to follow that decision," Bannon told Business Insider. "It's been important that you haven't had a dynamic where on every issue the court was ruling in a 5-4 decision in a conservative direction — you had a legitimate swing justice."

Both Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan recently voiced concern about the politicization of the high court and the implications for public trust in its authority.

"Part of the court's strength and part of the court's legitimacy depends on people not seeing the court in the way that people see the rest of the governing structures of this country now," Kagan told an audience at Princeton University on Friday.

Opinion

By Jennifer Finney Boylan - nytimes.com

Susan Collins Is the Worst Kind of Maverick!

She votes with the most right-wing members of her party, even while attempting to occupy some imaginary moral high ground.

Belgrade Lakes, Me. — My wife and I gathered around the television on Friday to listen to our senior senator, Susan Collins, announce her final decision on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Four sentences in, she began denouncing "special interest groups" who'd opposed him for the court, as if the only entities to weigh in on the nomination had been forces on the left. Six sentences in, she was decrying the groups who'd "whipped their followers into a frenzy by spreading misrepresentations and outright falsehoods." We were in the first minute of a speech that would go on for 44 more.

"Uh-oh," said my wife. "She's going to cave."

I nodded, although what I thought in my heart was — had there ever been any doubt? Ms. Collins, our senator since 1996, has a reputation for being an independent; a moderate; even — what was the term? — oh yes, a maverick.

But if Ms. Collins is a maverick, then I'm an appaloosa.

Yes, she's shown herself willing to buck her party now and again. FiveThirtyEight reports that she votes in line with Donald Trump 79 percent of the time; only Rand Paul of Kentucky, at 74 percent, has a lower score among Senate Republicans. She's opposed the president on immigration and abortion restrictions, net neutrality and his policies toward Russia, Iran and North Korea.

But on many key votes, her record is about as moderate as Ted Cruz's. In January, she provided the Republicans with the crucial 51st vote for the tax bill. She set three conditions: the additional passage of two separate bills to shore up insurance markets for individuals who weren't covered through their work, along with a promise for Congress to undo the cuts to Medicare automatically triggered by the deficit increase from the tax cut.

After that bill was passed, Ms. Collins said the promises to her were ironclad, and that if her conditions were not met, "there would be consequences." But the additional bills never got a vote, and a follow-up attempt to add her provisions to the omnibus spending bill in March was defeated, by other Republicans.

Of course they were.

As a voter in Maine for the last 30 years, I've been represented by a broad spectrum of independent statesmen and women. During my first year living here, we had dinner in a Skowhegan restaurant called the Heritage House, and at the table next to ours was Margaret Chase Smith, who, of course, stood up against the tactics of Joseph McCarthy in 1950 with her "Declaration of Conscience" speech. We stood up to shake her hand. I still remember that moment, the sparkle in her fierce eyes. It was like looking directly into history.

We've been represented by other mavericks in the last half-century. Senator William Cohen, another Republican, served as the secretary of defense for a Democratic president, Bill Clinton. George Mitchell, a former Senate majority leader, helped to bring about the Good Friday peace accords in Ireland, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. For eight years we had an independent governor, Angus King, who has gone on to represent our state as an independent in the Senate. (My wife and I are public supporters of, and have a long friendship with, the Kings.) Being independently minded is a tradition in Maine, as much a part of who we are as lobsters, moose hunting and whoopie pies.

But there are different ways of being a maverick. For Smith, it meant taking a stand, opposing McCarthy at the apex of his power. For Arizonan John McCain, it meant voting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, at least when no provisions had been made for the 20 million Americans who would have suddenly found themselves without health care.

There's another kind of "maverick," though — the kind of centrist who wants to please everyone. For Ms. Collins, it's often meant voting with the most right-wing members of her party, even while attempting to occupy some imaginary moral high ground. It's hard to see what our senator got for her vote supporting the tax cut last fall. It's just as hard for me to see her vote for Judge Kavanaugh as anything other than a warm embrace of Donald Trump and everything he stands for, her 45-minute speech notwithstanding.

Two years ago, in an op-ed in The Washington Post, she said she would not be voting for him: "I revere the history of my party, most particularly the value it has always placed on the worth and dignity of the individual, and I will continue to work across the country for Republican candidates. It is because of Mr. Trump's inability and unwillingness to honor that legacy that I am unable to support his candidacy."

And yet, at some of the most crucial moments of Mr. Trump's presidency, she has voted to empower him. In giving him a victory on Judge Kavanaugh, she has emboldened Mr. Trump to continue down the very path she claims to detest: denigrating women, bullying opponents, choosing the most combative approach to every disagreement. Based on the judge's snarling, partisan, bullying demeanor at his hearing, Judge Kavanaugh seems determined to be the kind of justice who is exactly the opposite of that legacy she once spoke of preserving.

In so doing, she has proved herself, in the end, to stand for nothing.

In her Declaration of Conscience speech, Margaret Chase Smith said that Joe McCarthy had debased the Senate to "the level of a forum of hate and character assassination."

Last week, Donald Trump ridiculed the suffering of Christine Blasey Ford before a jeering, laughing crowd. Three days later, Ms. Collins voted to confirm his nominee, a man who has pledged to bring exactly the same variety of partisan venom to the Supreme Court.

One can only wonder what Margaret Chase Smith would think of Ms. Collins now.