“No one from the press noticed Kennedy’s arrival at the Executive Residence, which was chosen for the meeting because of its relative privacy. The Oval Office’s large bank of windows makes it a fishbowl for prying eyes. Kennedy and Trump chatted pleasantly for about twenty minutes until, feeling the time was right, the justice handed the president an envelope. Inside was a letter dated June 27, 2018, beginning, ‘My dear Mr. President,’ a sign of the genuine ‘affinity,’ as one observer put it that the two men had for each other. The letter was Kennedy’s formal announcement of his resignation.” – Excerpt, Justice on Trial
Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court is a new book just released, authored by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino. Hemingway is a Fox News contributor as well as a senior editor of The Federalist, a news and commentary website. Severino, once a law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, is now the chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network, an activist group working for the confirmation of constitutionalist judges.
The book is the result of over 100 interviews, including the President of the United States, several Supreme Court justices, high-ranking White House and Department of Justice Officials and many others. Justice on Trial is a thoroughly researched and well-written history of the most contentious confirmation hearings since Justice Clarence Thomas’ in 1991.
The Daily Citizen talked recently with Hemingway and Severino about the book.
When asked for the reasons they wrote the book, Ms. Hemingway spoke first:
“I’ll let Carrie answer for herself, but my own thought is we knew we had a good story, we knew that this was an interesting and compelling story, and that it had been pretty traumatic for everybody to go through. It isn’t just about what happened to Brett Kavanaugh, it’s about the very notion of justice itself being on trial, and we wanted to, with facts and information, remind people of why it is important, why this is a value we all hold dear, and the importance of fighting for it; making good decisions so we that we can preserve these things for future generations.”
Mrs. Severino, who is the wife of Roger Severino, the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, spoke of the need to counteract the inevitable character assassination of Kavanaugh that will come with the passage of time. “After the [Clarence] Thomas hearings, Americans who had actually lived through it and had watched it believed Thomas over [Anita] Hill by a 2 to 1 margin. If you took that poll today, the numbers would be skewed the other direction. And that’s because there’s been a decades-long campaign of misinformation, of revisionist history, and people are not learning the true facts of what went on there.”
“This is why we did such an in-depth job of reporting on the Kavanaugh confirmation,” Severino continued. “We wanted to fight the misinformation with an actual, factual account of what happened, so Americans understand, and are prepared, when they start to get misinformation and a new narrative coming from opponents of Kavanaugh and particularly opponents of his jurisprudence who want to discredit him.”
The book delves into the similarities between the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991. Both involved requests for vast amounts of irrelevant documents; both involved gross mischaracterizations of the nominee’s record; and both ended with last-minute sensational allegations by women claiming to have been sexually harassed (in Thomas’ case) or sexually assaulted (in Kavanaugh’s case).
But there were also striking similarities in the realm of faith, the authors found. As Severino explains: “We tell the story in our book about Justice Kavanaugh the day that he finds out he’s going to be nominated. He’s a lector at Mass that night, and the passage that he reads out loud from II Corinthians talks about how “…power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:7-10 NAB) and he felt like that was a very significant passage. And then later, we learned that for Justice Thomas, that was a passage he had really prayed on during his own confirmation hearings,” she explained.
But that wasn’t the only spiritual parallel the two confirmations shared.
“We learned that Ashley Kavanaugh, even before he received the nomination, was praying ‘Let this cup pass from me,’” Severino stated. “She had already been through not one, but two brutal confirmation processes with her husband because Democrats were so opposed to him sitting on the D.C. Circuit. She felt like, ‘We have a wonderful life as it is. This would be a great honor. I think my husband absolutely would be the best person for the job but we don’t need to put our family through this.’ And yet obviously, he did receive the nomination and they had a much harder process than she anticipated,” Severino said. “That’s the same passage that Justice Thomas talks about in his autobiography. He talks about praying “Let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39 NAB) and then the significance of the next phrase: “not my will but Your will be done.” And he’s praying that as he’s going into that final stage of the final hearing with the Anita Hill controversy. So the parallels run long and deep,” Severino concluded.
Who were the unsung heroes of the Kavanaugh hearings? The authors list several: President Trump and his team at the White House for standing firmly behind Kavanaugh as some Republican senators and other high-ranking officials urged him to choose another nominee; Ashley Kavanaugh for her strength in praying for her husband; Senator Susan Collins who earned respect for her diligence, her depth of commitment to the process, and her reasoned vote for Kavanaugh in the face of outrageous attacks and threats on her and her staff; Rachel Mitchell, the experienced sexual assault interviewer brought in to question Christine Blasey Ford which sealed the deal for many wavering Republicans; and Leland Keyser, the childhood friend of Ford’s who refused to be pressured into substantiating Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh. Severino calls Keyser’s commitment to the truth “a really impressive portrait of courage.”
And then there was Senator Charles Grassley (R – IA), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who in Hemingway’s opinion, was “Someone who didn’t get a lot of credit during the hearings, but he was very much responsible for getting this nomination through to the Senate floor.” His reputation “as a wise, kind, and honest person, helped him manage the committee as it totally fell apart.”
In addition to recounting both the public as well as the behind-the-scenes drama attached to the Kavanaugh hearings, the authors warn that good people may not wish to serve their country on the federal bench unless something is done to prevent a recurrence of the politics of personal destruction we witnessed against Kavanaugh.
The authors concluded, “The big unknown is whether America will let it happen again.”
Justice on Trial is published by Regnery Publishing and is available at bookstores and at Amazon.com.