The Five Minutes that saved the Federalist Supreme Court

If you have unlimited money there is no limit to the number of well-funded organizations you can create.   In the case of Trump’s father Fred Christ Trump, as reported recently in the NY Times, he created 295 income streams for his kids and multiple companies that did all sorts of good work getting dad’s money to his offspring without any of those punitive taxes.   In the case of Charles and David Koch, they created and/or fund institutes, societies, non-profits, think tanks, academic programs, ad campaigns, lobbyist groups, even a popular grassroots movement influential in thwarting much of Obama’s program. [1]  

That last bit, the spontaneous, instantly national Tea Party was pure genius, giving angry Americans, being ruled by a liberal leaning Negro against their will– AGAINST THEIR WILL!!!– a chance to pose as angry patriots on television, night after night.  The fury of those Americans, and a reality based feeling that most Americans are basically powerless and screwed, led to a Tea Party congress in 2010 and, in the end, a straight line to Donald Trump, the most useful imbecile the Koch network has ever had in power.

Of course, that is merely my opinion.   Do I know much about the Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies, for example, outside of its wonderful name?   I do not.  I know the Kochtopus uses ‘majoritarian’ as a pejorative term for those who believe that democracy means respect for both majority opinion and the rights of minorities.   Charles Koch is old, he has no time for that kind of mamby pamby koombaya bullshit.   He and his organizations would free us all, permanently, from majoritarian tyranny.  All it really takes is a Supreme Court with a staunch corporatist majority.  Which we are about to have.

What does any of this have to do with the five minutes that saved Brett Kavanaugh’s partisan nomination to be a dependable deciding partisan vote on the unappealable Supreme Court?   You’re right, I’m sorry for this preamble, I will get to it in less than five minutes.  First, one last bit,  just a few words about the Federalist Society, funded by the Kochs, the Mercers and other right wing billionaires [2] :

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, most frequently called the Federalist Society, is an organization of conservatives and libertarians seeking reform of the current American legal system in accordance with a textualist or originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.   source

“Originalism” is a judicial philosophy made famous by Antonin Scalia, giving the ring of God-given truth (to his fellow true believers) to the pronouncements he made on the Supreme Court.  Under this theory he was never expressing merely his own ideas, any decision he made, he claimed, was based on uncovering the original intent of the geniuses who wrote the infallible founding document of our democracy and ruling accordingly.  Think about the incredible piousness of that quasi-religious judicial philosophy.

The Federalist Society, when it was created in 1982, at Yale Law School [3] would have been considered a fairly extremist group.  Today, thanks to movement of the Overton Window (think frog slowly being brought to a boil in a pot of warm water) their recently radical beliefs are ‘mainstream’.  There is a branch of the Federalist Society in virtually every law school in America.  They host parties, are welcoming to new members, all you have to do is believe what they do.  You can join, meet and party with a network of like-minded solidly conservative people.  It is a powerful professional network, perfect if you want to make sure to have people who think like you that you can give good jobs to.

Brett Kavanaugh is a lifelong Federalist Society member and, by all accounts, a very loyal one.  It’s not a knock, it’s what he believes in.  I find their beliefs despicable, but that’s just me.  It is the prerogative of a conservative president to pick a judicial nominee from the Federalist list of pre-approved down the line conservatives.   Kavanaugh is more than that though, more than even a hardline zealot, and for a few hours it looked like the credible testimony of a brave woman detailing an attack by a young, drunken Kavanaugh had revealed that indisputably.  

His interview on Fox, surrounded by his loving family, a few days before the Blasey Ford hearing, was unprecedented in the history of selling a Supreme Court nomination, as were the ads paid for by a conservative coalition, as was the op-ed he published in the Wall Street Journal today, on the day of the final vote, admitting he may have been overly emotional when he attacked so many people at his hearing, but assuring everyone of his perfectly impartial judicial temperament. 

The five minutes?

Kavanaugh’s nomination appeared to be over when Blasey Ford was done testifying.  The advice he got from Trump was to fight, don’t worry about how bad you might look, how transparent your lies might seem, how badly you’ve been damaged, and your family hurt, by the moving testimony of your victim, DO NOT LOSE, just keep swinging, and blustering and bullying, we have the votes and they can’t prove shit, won’t be able to corroborate shit, I CONTROL THE FBI INVESTIGATION– if it comes to that,so  be fearless, this whole thing is rigged– you win, as long as you don’t show a moment of weakness.   Kavanaugh came out raging, an innocent man outrageously attacked.  He blamed liberals seeking “revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left opposition groups.” Still, after an exhausting session of dodging, evading, falsely testifying about any number of things, he was on the ropes.   He finally lashed out at Senator Amy Klobuchar and then asked for, and was given, a time out by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, dour octogenarian Chuck Grassely.

He was able to regroup during that five minute break.  He apologized to Amy Klobuchar, as any good choir boy would after being as rude as he had been.  Now his intemperate behavior was expunged, he said he was sorry, what more do you want?    The Republican men on the Committee, starting with a positively hissing Lindsay Graham, suddenly found their voices and got angrily to work.  His fellow partisans had his back, expressed his outrage for him, made him the victim of a vicious, orchestrated attack by the shameless Democrats, they snarled the party line for the remainder of the hearing.  Looking back, a crucial five minute break saved his ass.

If Christine Blasey Ford had testified second, after Kavanaugh, his nomination would have been over.  Preet Barara and his guest, former Attorney General of New Jersey Anne Milgram, noted this the other day on his podcast and I realized: fuck.

Back when he was a young Federalist lawyer Brett Kavanaugh advised Kenneth Starr, who was seeking grounds to impeach Clinton, to, under no circumstances, allow Slick Willie to get off the hot seat for even a minute at any point during his grilling under oath.   No breaks!  

I know I raised this detail yesterday, but those five minutes haunt me.   On a single five minute break the history of our nation turns.



[1]  This is old news, mind you, but the first thing that popped up:  In 2008, the three main Koch family foundations contributed to 34 political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they directed.  source

[2] Donors to the Federalist Society include Google, Chevron, Charles G. and David H. Koch; the family foundation of Richard Mellon Scaife; and the Mercer family.[13]

[3] The society began at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, and the University of Chicago Law Schoolin 1982 as a student organization that challenged what its founding members perceived as the orthodoxAmerican liberal ideology found in most law schools. The society was started by a group of some of the most prominent conservatives in the country, including Attorney General Edwin Meese, Solicitor Generaland Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, Indiana congressman David M. McIntosh, Lee Liberman Otis, Energy Secretary and Michigan senator Spencer Abraham, and Steven Calabresi. Its membership has since included Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia, John G. Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.[10] The society asserts that it “is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to ourconstitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.”[1]


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