Bob Franken


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Neil Gorsuch is rooting for Brett Kavanaugh. It’s not just because they are both hard-right-wing zealots; it also has to do with Gorsuch currently being the most junior justice on the Supreme Court, and until another one takes over his entry level, he is the one who has to do cafeteria duty. He also speaks last during their frequent private deliberative conferences and must answer the door when someone knocks during those sessions, because no staff is present, not even law clerks. We don’t know what would happen to him if he snapped at one of the Supremes: “Get it yourself! Can’t you see I’m busy?!”
“It’s like a form of hazing”, the treatment of the high court’s low man on the seniority totem pole, according to Elena Kagan, describing her eight years as the low woman on that pole, until Gorsuch came along last year. Now, just a year and a half later, he might no longer be a pledge, replaced by another rookie … sooner or later.
Will it be Kavanaugh, after his outlandish display of nonjudicial temperament? His attempts to bully senators who dared to question him about charges he had participated in sexual assault when he was young seem to have a reverse effect. After that remarkable day when an earnest Christine Blasey Ford calmly laid out in public her accusation that at a party, Kavanaugh had groped her and tried to rip off her clothing before she escaped, his vitriolic denials ended up giving credence to her accusations.
It certainly convinced a few Republican senators the next day to jump off the confirm-Kavanaugh steamroller and allow the FBI to more fully investigate the allegations. The senators were led through the twists and turns by Arizona’s Jeff Flake, who insisted that they needed to do “due diligence” before they voted.
President Donald Trump, who seemed startled by the Flake news, could only agree to order the FBI to conduct the expanded background check. This was one time that he didn’t want to pick an ugly fight. And yes, it is ugly, but then what hasn’t been of late?

Still, even though many dark clouds are really entirely dark, this one may have a glimmer of a silver lining. What with all the censure over sexual abuse, we are finally forced to reflect on how men treat women, and how boys treat girls. It’s not just the physical acts ranging from molestation to rape and all points in between, not just the unwanted advances from those who are in positions of authority and not just the other forms of harassment that women don’t even bother to report, either because they were frightened or because it was an exercise in futility. That is due in large part to the way males continue to diminish females. Now, men are being forced to confront all this.
Brett Kavanaugh’s prospects for elevation to the Supreme Court are in serious jeopardy. He has been caught up in this overdue storm as we face up to mistreatment that dates back to the beginning of time.
We also finally are dealing with another fundamental issue: the abuse of privilege, the arrogant sense of entitlement that causes those in power to believe they can ignore the rules that apply to the riffraff. Kavanaugh, fairly or unfairly, has come to symbolize this self-appointed elite in the U.S. He was educated in a walled-off society of private, expensive schools and colleges, in his case Yale. He has left an impression on many that he is offended that anyone would even have the nerve to challenge his right to rule, as a violation of an implied caste system in this nation.
The examination of these two intertwined issues — the hubris of our self-styled sovereigns and the oppression of women — is long overdue. In the case of Brett Kavanaugh, the brutal hazing has already begun, before he ascends to the nation’s highest court. If he does.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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