Will America Give in to Mob Rule?

by Charles C.W. Cooke,
from America's 1st Freedom,

Those who have been wondering just how far opponents of the Constitution, as it is written, will go to keep originalist judges away from the U.S. Supreme Court need look no further than the recent character assassination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of Maryland. On the day that Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed to “oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have.”

“Character assassination,” while an accurate description, is in truth too narrow a term to describe what was done to Kavanaugh in the dying days of September. In addition to targeting a man, the figures who attempted to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination also took square aim at the most elementary of American ideals—among them due process, presumption of innocence and a respect for corroborating evidence. In the short term, the question before the U.S. Senate was, “Should Brett Kavanaugh sit on the U.S. Supreme Court?” In the long term, however, the question was considerably weightier: “Will America maintain the habits that have made it great, or will it instead descend into McCarthyism, Stalinism and moral panic?” That the most outspoken opponents of originalism have proven themselves hostile to the principles outlined in the Bill of Rights should, perhaps, come as no surprise. Nevertheless, it should alarm all fair-minded people. Think back to the extraordinary manner in which Kavanaugh’s insistence that he was innocent was taken as a sign of guilt. He wants a lawyer? Guilty. He says he has no idea what he’s being accused of? Guilty. He has a letter from friends who have attested to his character? Guilty. He denies the accusations calmly? Guilty. He denies the accusations angrily? Guilty. Think, too, about how seamlessly the goalposts were shifted throughout. Kavanaugh is a gang rapist! ok, he’s not, but he’s a rapist. ok, well not a rapist, but did you see how annoyed he was at being cast as a deviant? And anyway, he said he didn’t drink! ok, well he didn’t quite say that, so he’s probably an alcoholic. ok, well maybe not an alcoholic, but he had some beers as a teenager. Look, the point is, he’s disqualified, ok? The scattershot approach disgraced its progenitors and proliferators alike. ... Famous magazines jumped eagerly at the chance to join the mob.

At no point did his detractors settle upon a message. Indeed, at times, they struggled even to identify the perp. Whenever the case against Kavanaugh seemed weak, the attention was transferred away from him and onto the groups he supposedly represents. So chronic was this habit that observers who tuned in to the spectacle halfway through could have been forgiven for wondering whether it was Kavanaugh who was being accused, or everybody with whom he shared a characteristic. Repeatedly, the press attempted to fill in the vast gaps in the case against the nominee by running critical pieces about men, or Republicans, or people who went to prep school, or pro-lifers, or college kids, or everyone who grew up in the 1980s. In concert, we were treated to a seemingly endless supply of personal testimonies that, while often sad, had nothing whatsoever to do with the allegations against Kavanaugh. For a while, the non sequitur was king: “I was assaulted, therefore ... .”; “I went to Yale, therefore ... .”; “I drank a lot in high school, therefore ... .”

If you are wondering how tight is the pretzel knot that is established by this standard, consider that it deems acceptable Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s open mocking of a presidential candidate, yet deems un-acceptable the righteous indignation of a man being asked live on television whether he has ever run a rape ring.

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