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The Grumblers and the Supreme Court


Dear Friends,

Good morning. The Grumbles met last week. The major topics were Christine Blasey Ford and Anita Hill.

At the heart of the matter is this question: Will the U.S. Senate confirm President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Just as Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings produced a firestorm back in 1991, will the Kavanaugh nomination become a Clarence Thomas echo?

Grumbles is a cathartic for Mighty Betsy and me. Several couples meet monthly at the Washington House in Sellersville for lunch. All of us are closer to 90 than 80 so we’ve all been through life’s ups and downs.

Each month we gather and discuss what’s right and what’s wrong in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and the nation. Mighty Betsy and I tend to be more liberal than the others but we try to keep open minds.

By now, you know whether Christine Blasey Ford would testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. With the midterm elections just weeks away, the stakes are unusually high. If voters produce major changes in the Congress and the Senate, will the majorities change from Republican to Democratic? If so, will the impeachment of President Trump begin?

Republicans are eager to tilt the court to the right. One of the most contentious decisions in its history … Roe v. Wade … is bound to surface. So there’s plenty of urgency present to ensure 6-3 conservative decisions.

All of us remember the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991. Until then, I was a solid Republican believer. But my attitude changed as a result of President George H.W. Bush’s nomination of Thomas and Sen. Arlen Specter’s savage attack on Anita Hill.

My support for the elder George Bush had waned when he decided to abandon his support for a woman’s choice. In the 1980 Republican presidential primary, Bush was a pro-choice candidate (Ronald Reagan was pro-life and the winner of the GOP nomination). To get on the presidential ticket, Bush had to change his allegiance.

And my support for George H.W. Bush changed as well. I was more than disappointed when the senior Bush told the world that he had nominated Clarence Thomas because Thomas was the best qualified candidate in the judiciary.

What nonsense!

And after Arlen Specter’s attack on Anita Hill, I left the Republican Party at the national level. What I clearly remember was that the Senate Judiciary Committee was all male, all white. There was no way that Anita Hill could get a fair hearing. And she didn’t. A generation later, has America changed? Maybe … maybe not.

Timothy Phelps wrote an interesting op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times (Sept. 20). “Anita Hill was accused by Republican senators of “erotomania,” was called “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” and weathered ridiculous allegations that she had enclosed pubic hairs when returning papers to her law students at the University of Oklahoma. All just to see Thomas confirmed anyway.

“What lessons are there to draw from the anguish that Hill, Thomas, the Senate and the country went through in 1991?

“The most important one is that the accuser must be taken seriously, treated with respect and, given time to prepare and obtain competent advice.

“Anita Hill was cross-examined in prosecutorial fashion, She was given just two days to prepare. Her legal team was thrown together and not experienced in Senate procedure.”

If Brett Kavanaugh gets confirmed, what happens if other women come forward in the weeks ahead with similar stories? Will there be two Supreme Court Justices with an asterisk behind their names (Thomas and Kavanaugh)? When the Senate held its confirmation vote for Clarence Thomas, it passed by the narrowest margin in more than 100 years, 52 to 48.

My prediction is that American women will make history this year. If what we’ve been hearing in the polls turns out to be a fact, the Republican Party could go the way of the Whig Party of the 1850s. The presence of Donald Trump is certainly not helping the GOP these days.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith