Monday, October 15, 2018
Columns

Ruth: Teens, plan ahead for a Supreme Court nomination

Perhaps you are an aspiring U.S. Supreme Court justice, an ambition muted only by the fact you are just 17 years old. It never hurts to have a plan for one's life's work.

And that brings to the cautionary tale of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. What has hizzoner taught us?

If visions of "Oyez! Oyez!" waft through the teen’s mind, start now to avoid - ahem - certain pitfalls and adhere to that old adage: Never commit to paper anything one wouldn't want their mother (or the FBI) to read.

When you've barely begun to shave, is it a particularly savvy move to meticulously make notes in a calendar or a high school yearbook alluding to binge drinking, real or imagined sexual conquests and barfing with some regularity? Such jottings are not helpful, most notably when they emerge during a confirmation hearing, unless of course you are David Mamet.

Can you imagine Chief Justice John Marshall penning a diary entry as a teen along the lines of: "That Martha Washington is so hot, hot, hot. Got frisky with her after a few hard ciders. Tommy Boy Jefferson was there, too, with Sally. That guy is insane! Good times! Good times!"

It would also appear Master Kavanaugh never learned the essential truth about beer, which he has noted he really likes a lot. You don't buy beer. You merely rent it.

If any essential truth has emerged amid the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, the endless reporting and accusations of sexual misconduct, it is this: Kavanaugh appears unable to hold his liquor.

The debates will continue to rage whether Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and other women who have come forward with tawdry tales of less than chivalrous behavior.

But we know this much. Pour a few brewskies into this guy, and he turns into a belligerent, nasty, sloppy, self-entitled frat boy. Think of this as "Lost Weekend" meets "Inherent The Wind." It's entirely possible Kavanaugh may one day emerge as the greatest jurist of his time - before happy hour.

It doesn't look good after insisting he was an innocent choir boy dedicated to working out and performing community service (cue a Gregorian Chant) when a former classmate, Chad Ludington (Isn't there always a Chad somewhere in these stories?), has come forward to claim Kavanaugh was half in the bag during his years at Yale University.

Is this the Ivy League or the Divey League?

Let this be a lesson to anyone prematurely measuring themselves for a black robe. In answering the call to the law, it is best not to comport oneself as if one is auditioning for a remake of "Animal House."

And if you yearn for the day when you will be able to rub shoulders with Justice Samuel Alito (oh, the thrill of it all), you might think twice about joining an all-male secret society while at Yale - the dubiously titled Truth and Courage - that was widely known by a sexist nickname that can't be printed in a family newspaper. It's simply a suggestion.

At the end of the day, Kavanaugh is responsible for his conduct, his associations, his words, even dating back to his teenage years.After all, a seat on the highest court in the land is a big deal. Is it too much to expect those who sit on the court be held to a somewhat higher standard of probity and temperament?

Kavanaugh put himself forward to endure the scrutiny he received. Nobody dragged him kicking and screaming to the nomination.

Still one question lingers. There are nearly 700 federal district court judges and slightly less than 200 federal appellate court judges. There are hundreds of other notable legal scholars at the nation's universities. Yet Brett Kavanaugh (burp!) was the best President Donald Trump could come up with to nominate to the Supreme Court?

What might we call this? A miscarriage of due diligence?

 

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