Despite sham FBI report and protests, Senate rushes to confirm Kavanaugh
While Senators viewed a totally inadequate FBI report behind closed doors, one that will not be shown to the public, people massed in the nation's capital to oppose the rush job confirmation of the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee in history. | League of Women Voters/Twitter

WASHINGTON—-Amid competing political claims about the contents of a secret FBI report, and mass protests against federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate will take the first key vote on October 5 on GOP President Donald Trump’s nomination of the right-wing judge to the highest bench in the land.

That vote will be whether to end debate on the Kavanaugh nomination and thus set up a showdown vote, up or down, on him, this weekend, probably on October 6.

The GOP needs only 51 votes for both decisions, and it has 51 senators, to 47 Democrats and two independents. But three of the GOPers – Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins – are undecided.

So is Democrat Joe Manchin (W. Va.). If the Democrats oppose Kavanaugh and one of the three Republicans does too, GOP Vice President Mike Pence can break a tie. If two GOPers defect, Kavanaugh loses.

In the meantime, anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations and other activities, such as phone banks, occurred nationwide, with the Communications Workers leading one march in D.C. at noon on October 2 and Planned Parenthood organizing protests, phone banks and other events at dozens of college campuses. The ACLU aired ads in the states of those key senators.

CWA, like other unions and the AFL-CIO, opposes Kavanaugh because of his anti-worker decisions as a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. since 2005. Planned Parenthood and its allies emphasized Kavanaugh’s opposition to women’s reproductive choice. Trump made that anti-choice stand a litmus test for the Kavanaugh nomination, as he did for prior Justice Neil Gorsuch.

The FBI was told on September 28 to investigate whether Kavanaugh, as a teenager, sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford while both were students at exclusive private prep schools in the D.C. suburbs. She testified about the assault, at times overcome with her memory of it, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing the day before. Kavanaugh followed her, denied the assault, and blew up at Senate Democrats and “the left” in general – thus calling his judicial judgment and objectivity into question.

Flake made that additional FBI report a condition of his vote to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate, and the GOP-run Judiciary Committee agreed, on party lines, 11-10.

The report, however, is incomplete, Senate Democrats say. While Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said it exonerates Kavanaugh – without giving details – the panel’s top Democrat, Californian Dianne Feinstein, said “the most notable part of the report is what’s not in it. The FBI did not interview Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Blasey-Ford.” The bureau interviewed only 10 people.

“It looks to be a product of an incomplete investigation,” Feinstein said. Congressional testimony by both is “not a substitute” for questions by experienced FBI investigators, she added. Dr. Blasey-Ford’s lawyers called the FBI report “a sham and a charade.” One women’s group called the FBI report “bullshit” and “stacked against survivors” of assault. But at mid-day on October 4, Collins called the report “very thorough,” though she hasn’t read all of it. Flake said it lacked corroboration for Dr. Blasey-Ford.

“Look, the FBI ‘investigation’ was always gonna be fake. the point of it was to BUY TIME FOR ACTIVISTS to change more senators’ minds and get them to vote ‘no’ on Kavanaugh,” former People’s World Managing Editor Mariya Strauss posted on Facebook. “Did it work? We’ll find out on Saturday” when the final Kavanaugh up-or-down vote is tentatively scheduled.

Meanwhile, CWA members led the latest anti-Kavanaugh march, from the D.C. Circuit’s courthouse to the Supreme Court’s steps “Judge Brett Kavanaugh does not belong on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has a long record of ruling against working people – including CWA members – and regularly siding with employers,” the union said.

“If Kavanaugh gets confirmed, he will be shaping the future of our country for years to come. Over the course of his career and during his confirmation hearing he has made it clear that he sides with the powerful over the powerless. His views on the ability of corporations to do whatever they want regardless of the consequences are extreme, even for a Republican nominee.”

Just last year, CWA noted, Kavanaugh dissented from a D.C. Circuit Court ruling upholding back pay for more than 300 NABET-CWA workers who lost their jobs at Cable News Network in a company-mandated “reorganization designed to get rid of union workers.” Kavanaugh “concluded the company should not have to pay back wages,” CWA said, adding that’s a typical Kavanaugh anti-worker stand. The other judges overruled him.

And Kavanaugh “stood with AT&T to prevent CWA members in Connecticut who interact with customers or work in public from wearing union shirts protesting their treatment by the company. And he sided with Verizon to prevent workers from displaying pro-union signs in their cars.”

Planned Parenthood’s political arm set up the anti-Kavanaugh actions at college campuses. Students turned out for walkouts and phone banks against Kavanaugh in Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois (two, including a phone bank at Northwestern), Maine (four), Missouri (two), New York City, North Carolina, North Dakota – a phone bank to call Heitkamp and GOP Sen. John Hoeven – Vermont and West Virginia (two). D.C.-area students joined the CWA-led protest.

“Young people are taking action across the country because they stand with survivors of sexual assault, and they know Brett Kavanaugh is in a position to determine the health and constitutional rights of generations to come,” said Brett Savelli, Planned Parenthood’s associate director of youth organizing.

“Kavanaugh has proven he doesn’t respect young people’s decisions or their bodily autonomy. Now, senators need to prove they do. Listen to what young people are saying and reject Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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