Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation an the Future of the Supreme Court, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino

Nine stars

In this highly detailed piece about the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino take the reader not only through the lead-up and full-on circus of the event, but also provide some poignant history to place the entire experience in context. When Justice Anthony Kennedy secretly met with President Trump at the end of the 2017-18 term of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), the president knew he had a major coup on his hands. Able to not only to place another legal mind of his choosing to the Court, but also tip the balance in the oft-cited ideological split, Trump hurried to choose a nominee. He was sure the strong legal mind of Brett Kvanaugh would be an easy pick that both Senate Democrats and Republicans could support. Little did he realise the fight that the Dems were ready to put to Kavanaugh in the hopes of stalling a SCOTUS nomination only months ahead of the mid-term elections, slated for November 2018. Thus began the war that Hemingway and Severino depict in this well-crafted piece. From the early barbs about his past working in the Starr Special Prosecutor’s Office and in the Bush White House, Kavanaugh was forced to defend himself in private meetings with senators, as well as in the Judicial Committee. It was only when things were running smoothly that some Democrats urged the release of a damning letter that turned the hearings from a simple partisan division of views into something that caught the attention of the world. The discovery that Christine Blasey Ford remembered being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh when they attended a high school party in the 1980s opened a can of worms few expected. As the narrative moves from legal and judicial questions to those of the allegations, the authors make an interesting parallel to the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas skirmish the Judiciary Committee faced in the early 1990s. Both sides held firm that the truth was on their side, with a few Republican senators serves as fence-sitters throughout. Smears and mud throwing came, as the nominee sought to distance himself from the allegations, relying on political barbs of his own and a president willing to Tweet the truth into oblivion with his own smears. When the dust settled, a truth the majority of the Judiciary Committee and Senate as a whole could stomach emerged, allowing Trump his second nominee. A wonderfully written piece that Hemingway and Severino use to push their own perspective. Recommended to those who want an insightful look into the process of Supreme Court nominations, as well as the nitty-gritty of what took place in the summer of 2018.

I had no idea what to expect when I opened this book, having lived through and thoroughly enjoyed the drama that was the Kavanaugh nomination process. Never one to hide my dislike of the current POTUS, I was eager to see how the authors would handle his involvement, as well as the spin taken on how a man accused of assault would spin it and seek to shine his halo. The authors painstakingly offered not only a strong narrative of events, but also injected poignant backstory to put the current events into context, which serves to strengthening the process as a whole. With inside information that fills in many of the gaps that media reports at the time likely did not know, the authors give a full view of events, even if they choose to use some of their own smear tactics. The subtlety of their attacks is to be applauded, though it does not take away rom the overall reading experience, as many attentive readers will sift through this and see truths as they emerge. It is not for me to stand atop a soapbox and explore the two sides of a sexual assault, which includes knee-jerk reactions to a victims statements and the accuser’s replies. Hemingway and Severino do that, both in their own words and through the voices of the senators on the committee. That being said, there is much to be attributed to the narratives offered by both sides, as well as the reaction of the public. As mentioned before, the parallels drawn between this and the Hill/Thomas clash are quite strong and I applaud the authors for doing so. Whatever the truth might be, when one removes all the lies and spun truths, the reader will be able to decide for themselves, irregardless of the authors’ repeated himpathy—recently discovered word that fits perfectly here—which drips from each page. Politics at its most entertaining and to be expected when King of the Misogynists sits in the Oval Office. Is everyone ready for 2020 and the next big battle? One can hope RBG is and can hold onto her SCOTUS seat until then!

Kudos, Madams Hemingway and Severino, on this book I could not stop reading. It goes to show that even with an agenda, you two can pen a wonderfully insightful book on a contentious subject.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons