Making their mark: Senators Booker, Harris stand for justice

MARC H. MORIAL | 9/25/2018, 8:55 p.m.
“Gentlemen, I have always been persuaded that the stability and success of the National Government, and consequently the happiness of ...

National Urban League

“Gentlemen, I have always been persuaded that the stability and success of the National Government, and consequently the happiness of the People of the United States, would depend in a considerable degree on the Interpretation and Execution of its Laws. In my opinion, therefore, it is important that the Judiciary System should not only be independent in its operations, but as perfect as possible in its formation.”

– President George Washington, From George Washington to the United States Supreme Court, April 3, 1790

After four contentious days of testimony, one thing is absolutely clear from the Senate confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s hand-picked Supreme Court nominee: There is no love lost between Senate Democrats and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Democrats were combative, and in some cases, defiant, as Kavanaugh’s high-stakes confirmation hearing played out for the American public to see. Trump’s nominee could drastically remake the court, cementing a conservative ideological imbalance that would affect many of the rights and fundamental liberties many Americans take for granted for generations to come.

Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California were particularly forceful in their exchanges with Kavanaugh – and given what’s at stake for our nation, rightfully so.

Sen. Harris interrupted the opening hearings over the loud objections of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, demanding a postponement, especially in light of Republicans releasing over 40,000 pages of documents on Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House the night before the start of the hearings. As Harris noted, given the time and sheer volume of documents, the confirmation process needed to be delayed. But despite Harris’ common sense objection, the Republicans decided the show must go on.

Documents became a running theme in the Democrats’ resistance to Kavanaugh’s nomination. In a break with protocol, Sen. Booker released a trove of emails Republicans wanted to keep secret, arguing that there was no reason for them to be marked confidential. Republicans roundly dismissed Booker’s attempt to shed further light on Kavanaugh, a potential lifetime appointee to the Supreme Court, as “theatrics.” Sen. John Cornyn, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, framed Booker’s document release as grandstanding, saying that, “Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate or of confidentiality of the documents that we are privy to.”

Whether the questioning was difficult, such as the exchanges between Kavanaugh and Harris on Robert Mueller or inquiries about a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, or the document was salient to understanding how Kavanaugh might rule as a Supreme Court justice, such as Booker’s release of an email previously marked confidential entitled, “racial profiling,” Republicans distilled any attempt by Democrats to provide the American public with more information than Republicans were willing to provide down to cheap political posturing.

No matter where you may fall on the motivations of either senator, or any senator on the opposite side of the aisle, there was a concerted effort by Democrats to provide their constituents and their nation with as much information as possible on Kavanaugh, because, ultimately, this nomination has been nothing if not rushed and utterly devoid of meaningful vetting.