Trump may not be a Federalist Society member, but he is proving to be its useful idiot.
Thanks to the recent, highly publicized Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Americans are getting a refresher course on the immense power held by the Supreme Court. Prominent Republicans are furiously working to hurriedly install a far-right Conservative Judge with, at best, a checkered past. It is wholly evident why President Trump prefers Judge Kavanaugh, as the judge’s public opinions offer The President his greatest chance at protection against indictment. But why, despite the massive uproar, are Congressional Republicans so insistent on Kavanaugh’s seating? Consider that Neil Gorsuch seems to hold views equally conservative as Kavanaugh, but was confirmed with mild resistance. Isn’t there a list of other candidates the GOP deems qualified who are less likely to ignite a public outcry and media hellstorm?
Many pundits correctly point out that the timing of this appointment is critical. This is due to a potential shift in Congressional makeup resulting from the 2018 midterms. “It’s now or never” could be the mindset of many Congressional Republicans. The timing is also critical for President Trump, as an upcoming SCOTUS case could effectively and dramatically broaden his pardon power. As the Mueller probe creeps further into Trump’s inner circle, The President must satisfy his unceasing desire to ensure his own preservation. And since the outcome of the case could prevent a pardoned Federal criminal from being tried for state crimes, there may reasonably be some prominent Congressional Republicans who view the President’s pardon pen as a get-out-of-jail free card. Dana Rohrabacher, Devin Nunes, and Chris Collins immediately come to mind.
But there is another aspect of the rushed, “hair on fire” pace of the confirmation process which isn’t being explored. Americans need to strongly consider the possibility of a quid-pro-quo between the Trump Administration and The Federalist Society. Let’s start with a brief background on The Society itself.
On its own website, The Federalist Society describes itself as such: “Founded in 1982, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians dedicated to reforming the current legal order.” With an almost religious fervor, the Society extols the importance of interpreting the Constitution with its “original intent” in mind. That is to say, members believe that the meaning of the Constitution was firmly and forever decided in 1787. In a roundabout way, The Society promotes the notion that Constitutional Amendments ratified after that are less important. Considering the content of the 13th, 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th Amendments, this stance is smug and condescending to women, African-Americans, the poor, minorities as a whole, and everyone who advocates for these groups.
With its summary and interpretation of the book “The Federalist Society – How Conservatives Took the Law Back From Liberals,” by Avery and McLaughlin, this piece by David Fontana is a must read. The society was founded by conservative and “libertarian” law students from Yale, Harvard, and the University of Chicago, and it didn’t take long for the society to receive the support of ultra-conservative judges Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia.
As The Society grew to include more influential members, it became a nexus for conservative-inclined law graduates to further their respective careers. As with most industries and professions, who you know is at least equally important as what you know.
The Society’s stances on abortion, corporate deregulation, and gun control make it extraordinarily attractive to Christian fundamentalists and powerful wealthy capitalists. Until now at least, wealthy GOP supporters have been much more focused on which judges sit on the courts than have rank and file Democrats. This has led to a modern conservative takeover of the Judicial Branch, which is continuing under Trump.
“No one has been more dedicated to the enterprise of building a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade than the Federalist Society’s (Executive Vice President) Leonard Leo,” wrote recently infamous conservative activist Edward Whelan. Make no mistake, one of The Federalist Society’s goals is to overturn the 1973 SCOTUS decision. In addition to the innumerable conservative judges who have traveled through The Society’s “pipeline” to be seated on Federal and District Courts, in Kavanaugh The Society now seeks to place a fourth member as Supreme Court Justice. The Federalist Society’s influence is stunningly pervasive in American politics.
Many Democrats, myself included, saw a bitterly fought but small victory last week when the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to delay the Kavanaugh vote so that an FBI investigation into Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s recent sexual abuse allegations may occur. But our optimism should be tempered by the horrifying realization that The Federalist Society already has its fingerprints all over the investigation.
Brett Kavanaugh himself, a known far-right conservative judge, is a Society member.
White House Counsel Don McGhan is also included in the ranks of Federalist Society members. No current member of the Trump Administration has played a greater role in selecting Conservative judges for appointments. Apparently, McGahn is the man who dictates the scope of the FBI’s active investigation into Kavanaugh, despite the President’s public statements that “the FBI should interview whoever it deems appropriate.”
Though President Trump is not a member of The Society, both McGahn and the man at the FBI who will oversee the investigation, Director Christoper Wray, are.
Watch the investigation this week, Dems. Call and urge your Senators to do the same. The possibility that only a charade occurs is real, for the GOP and Federalist Society desperately want Brett Kavanaugh on the bench as soon as possible.
Trump may not be a Federalist Society member, but he is proving to be its useful idiot. In exchange for his assured legal protection, the Society gets to place judges it deems favorable on the country’s highest courts. I may not have gone to law school, but I know what that is called.
Quid. Pro. Quo.