Following the final pronouncements by holdout lawmakers on Friday—namely Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia—that made it clear the U.S. Senate is almost assured to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in a vote on Saturday, outrage erupted among those who had opposed his nomination and vows to mobilize were issued to make sure that those who voted against the public interest would be held accountable in the upcoming mid-terms or in 2020.
"Instead of their reactive brand of politics, Democrats might consider doing something bold, like publishing the results of an independent investigation into all the sources the FBI neglected to question, & holding an hours long press conference at which those witnesses speak."
—political journalist Briahna GrayBut beyond those pronouncements, others noted that the Democrats still have some very real strategic decisions to make about how to proceed in the case of Kavanaugh—a nominee who throughout his confirmation process lashed out with partisan attacks, dodged questions about his past, and may well have perjured himself by lying under oath to the Senate on not one, but numerous occasions.
In addition to the very serious and credible allegations of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Debbie Ramirez—neither of which outside observers contend came close to receiving the investigative scrutiny they deserved by a rushed and constrained FBI probe—progressive voices are calling on the Democrats, even if Kavanaugh is confirmed on Saturday, to do everything possible to make sure a proper investigation is conducted and that the American public—given what's at stake—is given the opportunity to understand the full scope of his past behavior and the accusations of perjury before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As columnist Frida Ghitas wrote on CNN Saturday morning, "The FBI probe apparently did not find any corroborating evidence into allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh because it was never meant to do that. It was not a search for the truth. It was a charade meant to appear as a real investigation, with the purpose of giving Republicans a fig leaf to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court without paying a political price."
With a thread on Twitter Friday evening, Briahna Gray, senior politics editor for The Intercept and a contributing editor for Current Affairs magazine, laid out a plan of attack for Democrats that would rely not on hand-wringing over their Kavanaugh defeat, but instead focus on truth-telling and fact-finding that would put the Republicans, especially Collins, on the hook for the sham process they facilitated to ram him through. In the series of tweets, Gray wrote:
- Instead of their reactive brand of politics, Democrats might consider doing something bold, like publishing the results of an independent investigation into all the sources the FBI neglected to question, & holding an hours long press conference at which those witnesses speak.
- They've let Collins & the like get away with pretending like Ford's is an isolated claim. They should ask the Princeton theology professor (we know how the right like's credentials) to "corroborate" Ramirez's claims. And if she's willing, she should give testimony too.
- They should have all of the classmates who've been calling into the news shows and writing letters, including the clerks who have withdrawn their support, take the mic: Make visible the testimony that the FBI ignored, & make a spectacle of their mishandling of the investigation.
- Even if Kavanaugh is confirmed, Collins should not be able to get away with the claim that it's "more likely than not" that Kavanaugh is innocent of behaviors beneath the dignity of the court. It's obvious to most of us, but it needs to be made more obvious to Maine voters.
- Last point: Let's not forget that we're still waiting on these Kavanaugh documents, and Dems will look silly objecting to whatever eventually comes out if they act complacent now.
Those who spotted the advice, thought it was a great idea:
I agree! Instead of acting like the minority and like victims, Dems need to go on the offensive and act like a majority! Investigate, interview, and use the power of the media loudly, with courage and fervor!
— Allie Katz (@akatzbo) October 5, 2018
Responding to Gray's thread, author and climate activist Bill McKibben stated, "this is very good strategic thinking; i hope someone sees it and takes you up on it." He then tagged Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Edward Markey in his tweet.
"If Democrats regain power in either chamber of Congress, they must resolve to reopen the investigations that Republicans refused to conduct and demand the documents that the Trump White House worked to conceal."
—Brian Fallon, Demand JusticeIn the wake of Friday's announcement by Collins, executive director of Demand Justice Brian Fallon said that Kavanaugh "will join the Supreme Court with a cloud over his head, and an asterisk next to his name."
As what might be considered the first truly "illegitimate justice" on the Court, Fallon continued, Kavanaugh's confirmation "will mark a point of no return for the Supreme Court's reputation as the one, apolitical branch" of the U.S. government.
"Make no mistake," he warned: "this confirmation vote will not be the last word on Kavanaugh's fitness to serve on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is sure to be the tiebreaking vote in a series of 5-4 decisions that will defy the will of the public, ensuring this fight will rage for years to come. If Democrats regain power in either chamber of Congress, they must resolve to reopen the investigations that Republicans refused to conduct and demand the documents that the Trump White House worked to conceal."
Of those Republicans who voted in his favor, Fallon concluded, "this will be a career-defining decision they will never live down. Many of these Republicans are up in 2020, and our work to hold them accountable will begin immediately."