The Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearing has come and gone. It was, not one bit surprisingly, a very disgusting bit of political theater of the absurd. As of today, only one GOP senator has voiced support for her confirmation. That one person is a white woman, if that makes any difference. Not that Ketanji needs even a single GOP vote to be confirmed, as she needs only a simple majority of 51 votes and VP Harris can break a 50-50 tie if need be. When she does get confirmed, she will become the first Black female to become a member of SCOTUS. The first African-American on the Court was Thurgood Marshall, who was a member from 1967-1991.
The Katanji Brown Jackson nomination and the sickening racist circus that took place last week has compelled me to explain just how historically cynical and corrupted a matter it is regarding both Democrats and Republicans since Thurgood left SCOTUS over three decades ago, replaced by the now quite notorious Clarence Thomas. You know, the second ever Black to be seated on the Court.
Thurgood was known for being a passionately progressive attorney He was the embodiment of a very thoughtful jurist who fought to right the wrongs that were visited upon his fellow Americans, for equal justice under the law, and who necessarily became most involved in confronting the vicious racism of the notorious Jim Crow era in the U.S. Most notably, Marshall won the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954, a case that involved ending the “separate but equal” precedent that barred Black students from attending white-only public schools.
When Marshall retired in 1991, then President George H.W. Bush was tasked with nominating a replacement for him on SCOTUS. Bush decided to “honor” Marshall by nominating a fellow African-American. That nominee turned out to be Clarence Thomas. I recall that Senate hearing that was tasked with judging judge Thomas. In short order, in addition to his having a rather modest judicial portfolio, the hearing became embroiled in serious accusations from numerous women who worked with Mr. Thomas while he headed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. One such woman was Anita Hill, also African-American. She alleged, with descriptive detail, sexually harassing words and actions on his part. As a result, Thomas’ nomination appeared to be quite in jeopardy.
At the time of the hearing, the Democrats held a 57-43 majority in the Senate. The Chair of the hearing was none other than Joseph Biden, our current President. When more and more women sought to corroborate Mr. Thomas’ seeming penchant to sexually accost females under his authority at EEOC, he famously accused the Committee of “an electronic lynching”. Anita Hill was then cynically treated with increasing suspicion of having a delusional personal vendetta against Thomas, and ultimately he was confirmed by a 52-48 vote. In other words, that 57-43 Democratic majority was not able to hold together, with 11 of them voting for Thomas in spite of his possibly, probably, extremely dubious character and clearly anemic judicial experience. Do I need remind anyone how damaging Thomas’ presence on the Court has been? He votes against cases seeking recourse to civil rights injustices, and at this very moment, thirty-one years into his LIFETIME APPOINTMENT, is now considered to be a conspiracy theorist proponent who is on board with GOP voter suppression legislation. He is a clear and present danger to democracy. And we have the Democratic Party to thank for this nightmare scenario that now even includes Ginni Thomas (his wife) accused of being actively involved in the January 6 insurrection. Yes, well done Donkeys, and especially Joe Biden who Chaired that hearing that should have ash-canned Clarence rather than overseeing the folding of their Committee cards in the face of a race-baiting hail-Mary.
Remember, G.W.H. Bush chose Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall! Certainly, he had to know he wasn’t picking someone who deserved the slightest consideration in such a context, or even in ANY context as per a SCOTUS appointment. Which brings this back to Katanji Brown Jackson. She, who is immensely qualified as a jurist, had to sit and endure idiotic and offensive questioning from the Republicans on the Committee. That, as I asserted above, was no surprise, but keep in mind that again, the Democrats now have a slim but undeniable majority in the Senate, and this time it was Democrat Richard Durbin as the Chair. Durbin, a decades -in-the-making, ineffectual, timid legislator, had the gavel and could have–should have–shut off the microphones of the most egregiously disrespectful Republicans attacking Ms. Brown. But you see, the Democrats don’t want or know how to fight in any manner, even to honor the memory of Thurgood Marshall, the antecedent of the “appoint a Black” framework encapsulating Jackson’s nomination. It makes one wonder (especially yours truly) if they even care about justice, writ large or small, then or now. That slim but real majority they now hold has not be used at all to push back legislatively against the voter suppression tactics, the LGBTQ-bashing, the attack on women’s reproductive rights, the Big Lie narrative of January 6’s “stop the steal” bilious bile. or follow up on raising the minimum wage, forgiving student debt, protecting worker’s rights and so much more that this country desperately needs.
While the pivotal mid-terms are now only a bit more than seven months away, the so-called “opposition party” that used to be embodied by FDR or Thurgood Marshall, and most certainly is in the democratic DNA of a Black woman named Katanji who should have been confirmed for SCOTUS in all due haste, appears to be the party of do-nothingness. There are many pejoratives to describe the ugly, racist, far-right fanaticism that has become the Republican Party. Too many people, however, still seem to believe that the Democrats can and will step up to save our democracy. Many express disappointment, but cling to hope that Biden and his majority are going to act, that they have a plan, that they must have a plan. Those people are asleep. Their hopes are only alive in a dream world from which they need to awake. But even then, as with the last 40-plus years, even when we the people choose that “opposition party” there is little to no return on that electoral investment.
I’d most sincerely like to think there is still hope, but my eye are wide open. So, for now and perhaps until there’s a reason not to feel this way, I say (and a tip of the hat to Bill S.) A Plague on Both Your Houses! you goddam Donkeys and Elephants. Stinky, dark, dank and duplicitous houses they are. The evil of two lessors. But I must stop, least I be accused of damning with faint umbrage…