Why Mitt Romney loves Ketanji Brown Jackson
As the ugly confirmation fight continues on whether to advance Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, Senator Mitt Romney announced his support for her nomination. He noted that "in her previous confirmation vote, I had concerns about whether or not she was in the mainstream." After spending a few hours visiting with her and reviewing her congressional testimony, he decided that she was in the mainstream.
He apparently thought differently about Brown when he voted against her confirmation for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. His surprise reversal now is due to this explanation: "I did not have the occasion to sit down with her last year." Now he notes that she is a fine jurist and a person of integrity with family values. Other prominent Republican lawyers and judges have noted that "no serious person can question her qualifications to the Court and to my mind her judicial philosophy is well within the mainstream." This is most interesting, as last year, Judge Jackson told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "I do not have a judicial philosophy, per se."
The problem for conservative Republicans is that the word "mainstream" has become meaningless. For them, "mainstream" is a euphemism for "everything has moved leftward." In fact, "mainstream media" in itself is a trigger term for conservative disgust and anger.
The following positions and philosophies are considered mainstream: pro-choice, the 2020 election was the most secure in history, white people are racist — either overtly or subconsciously, gender binary is a "problematic notion," American culture is hopelessly flawed and needs to be replaced...to name just a few.
The other senator from Utah, Mike Lee, sees Judge Jackson in a different light. He feels that her judicial record is "disturbing" and "troubling," citing the fact that she imposed lesser sentences in child pornography cases and in a child rape case, departing from federal sentencing guidelines. She also acted outside her jurisdiction. As Senator Lee said, "[t]hey told us to look at judicial philosophy, but Judge Jackson said she doesn't have one. They leaned on her record, but what we have of her record is troubling. They said to look at her answers, but she didn't answer basic questions (i.e., What is a Woman?) and endorsed judicial activism." And so it goes with the dueling senators from a red state!
Victor Davis Hanson said it most eloquently when he opined: "We are in a veritable war of competing visions. The strife inside the two parties is irrelevant when compared to the larger existential war for the soul of America." Therefore, it was appropriate for President Trump to fight back with a litany of executive orders to reverse a dangerous leftward trend. To stand on ceremony and say that "this is the job of Congress" doesn't work when Congress is broken and deadlocked.
Likewise, the situation in America is too serious to disregard the judicial philosophies and political leanings of those being considered for the highest court in the nation. Yes, it supposedly used to be that only one's qualifications were the standard to determine eligibility for the Supreme Court — and this according to Romney, who rues the fact that we have strayed from that standard. News flash to Senator Romney: The departure from this standard was blatantly obvious in the opposition of Democrats to the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork in 1987. Bork was considered "too extreme" and out of the "mainstream."
As William Kristol noted, "in the area of constitutionalism, conservative goals have been thwarted, and the key moment of failure, from which conservative constitutional jurisprudence has never recovered, was the Bork defeat in 1987. For the last 18 years, constitutional jurisprudence has continued to drift away from a sound constitutionalism based on the written Constitution and a proper deference to popular self-government in many areas of public life. Bork's defeat was both a cause and a symbol of this continued downward drift." Kristol noted this in 2005. The drift is even greater now.
Somewhere, somehow, Republican elected officials need to stand up for core principles and philosophies. This should trump any concern about being in the "mainstream." There was no muscle movement from the top echelon in addressing the abundant evidence of fraud and illegalities in the 2020 election. Senator Rand Paul asked the question in 2018: "Are most Republicans really pro-life? Of course, they campaign as such, but how often is that more of an attempt to get votes or raise money than being serious about doing something about it?" How serious are Republicans about reducing government spending? Not very, according to a Hill-HarrisX survey in 2019.
History has shown that once justices get on the bench if they drift, it always is to the left, not the right. This should be a serious warning to elected Republican officials such as Senator Romney. He thinks he can afford to take the noble high road, stand on ceremony, and go along to get along. He may be "fiddling while Rome burns." Apparently, being in the mainstream is all that matters.
In the words of Rebecca Solnit, "to say that everything without exception is going straight to hell is not an alternative vision, but only an inversion of the mainstream's 'everything's fine.'"
Rebecca Behrends, M.D. is a retired E.D. physician and vice president of research for Michigan Citizens for Election Integrity (MC4EI.com).