Speech per­haps Sen. Su­san Collins’ finest hour

Albuquerque Journal - - OPINION -

In a speech an­nounc­ing her vote to con­firm Brett Ka­vanaugh to the Supreme Court, Sen. Su­san Collins (R-ME) re­minded me of some of the great or­a­tors of the past. Her speech was mea­sured in tone, sub­stan­tive in con­tent and de­liv­ered with con­vic­tion.

Collins is no con­ser­va­tive. She has voted in fa­vor of abor­tion and same-sex mar­riage while toe­ing a more mod­er­ate line on eco­nom­ics. Her speech sup­port­ing Ka­vanaugh and de­nounc­ing the smears against him and the dis­tor­tion of his ju­di­cial record was as good as any de­liv­ered by her more con­ser­va­tive col­leagues.

She cor­rectly la­beled the process that has be­come cor­rupt, nasty and di­vi­sive: “We have come to the con­clu­sion of a con­fir­ma­tion process that has be­come so dys­func­tional it looks more like a car­i­ca­ture of a gut­ter-level po­lit­i­cal cam­paign than a solemn oc­ca­sion.”

Collins chas­tised ac­tivists who sent out fundrais­ing let­ters op­pos­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s nom­i­nee even be­fore Ka­vanaugh was an­nounced: “... we have seen spe­cial-in­ter­est groups whip their fol­low­ers into a frenzy by spread­ing mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions and out­right false­hoods . ... ”

She didn’t men­tion the ma­jor me­dia’s com­plic­ity in help­ing those groups to pub­li­cize the false­hoods with vir­tu­ally no cor­rec­tions to their out­landish claims.

Not­ing “Our Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion process has been in steady de­cline for more than 30 years,” she added this wish: “One can only hope that the Ka­vanaugh nom­i­na­tion is where the process has fi­nally hit rock bot­tom.”

Given the level of vir­u­lent ha­tred by the left, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Af­ter say­ing she has been as­sured by Ka­vanaugh of his re­spect for prece­dent — by which she meant fealty to Roe v. Wade and the Af­ford­able Care Act — she said that Ka­vanaugh was not a sure vote for poli­cies of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. She pointed out that other jus­tices nom­i­nated by Repub­li­can pres­i­dents have voted in ways that went against their wishes, United States vs. Nixon be­ing one of the more sig­nif­i­cant ones.

There was a glim­mer of hope in Collins’ speech for those who be­lieve Roe was wrongly de­cided. She said, “There are, of course, rare and ex­tra­or­di­nary times where the Supreme Court would rightly over­turn a prece­dent.”

In what might be one of those “carved in stone” quotes, Collins de­liv­ered her most pro­found line: “We must al­ways re­mem­ber that it is when pas­sions are most in­flamed that fair­ness is most in jeop­ardy.”

Fair­ness was not just in jeop­ardy; it was mur­dered. Democrats and ac­tivists pro­moted in­ac­cu­rate and un­fair sto­ries and treated as truth the tes­ti­mony of Dr. Chris­tine Blasey Ford that Ka­vanaugh sex­u­ally as­saulted her. They did the same with oth­ers who claimed, with­out ev­i­dence, that Ka­vanaugh par­tic­i­pated in, or was present at, al­leged gang rapes fueled by drugs and al­co­hol.

About that Collins said, “This out­landish al­le­ga­tion was put forth with­out any cred­i­ble sup­port­ing ev­i­dence and sim­ply par­roted pub­lic state­ments of oth­ers. That such an al­le­ga­tion can find its way into the Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion process is a stark re­minder about why the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence is so in­grained in our Amer­i­can con­scious­ness.”

In this in­stance, the pre­sump­tion of guilt was the rule. Though there were no cor­rob­o­rat­ing wit­nesses and Ford, her­self, could not re­mem­ber sig­nif­i­cant de­tails about the evening, vir­tu­ally all Se­nate Democrats and many Amer­i­cans ap­peared ready to lynch Ka­vanaugh, caus­ing harm to his rep­u­ta­tion, char­ac­ter and grief to his fam­ily and friends, in­clud­ing many women who is­sued state­ments about his honor and fit­ness for the court.

Near­ing the end of her speech, Collins said of the process sur­round­ing the Ka­vanaugh nom­i­na­tion: “It is a case of peo­ple bear­ing ill will to­wards those who dis­agree with them. In our in­tense fo­cus on our dif­fer­ences, we have for­got­ten the com­mon val­ues that bind us to­gether as Amer­i­cans.”

Un­for­tu­nately, a younger gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­cans knows lit­tle about those val­ues. They seem to be rarely taught in pub­lic schools and uni­ver­si­ties. That is why they are slip­ping away. Young peo­ple would do well to be re­minded of them by read­ing Sen. Collins’ speech.


Sen. Su­san Collins, R-Maine


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