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Why Defeating Brett Kavanaugh Is the Pivotal Fight of Our Lifetime

A letter to America on Brett Kavanaugh: We are an unstoppable force

"Now is the time to clearly define the values that will guide us through the November elections and beyond into 2020, in the Post-Trump world." (Photo: Getty)

"Now is the time to clearly define the values that will guide us through the November elections and beyond into 2020, in the Post-Trump world." (Photo: Getty)

A friend asked me to write her a letter about why the fight to block Brett Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court is the pivotal fight of our lifetime. Here is what I wrote.

If the contents of this letter disturb you, please join us on Sunday in the largest ever single day protest against a Supreme Court nominee in this history of our country. www.uniteforjustice2018.com

Dear Jenny,

As of yesterday, President Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, is going to jail and his lawyer Michael Cohen pled guilty to charges that could implicate the President. Despite the fact that we are on the verge of a full blown constitutional crisis, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is forcing hearings right after Labor Day. Facts:

  • The National Archives can’t produce the documents the Senators need to vet his positions on current law until late October.
  • Polling shows that the majority of Americans don’t want this guy including 72% of women who are worried about our futures and our families.
  • He was handpicked by the Federalist Society — an organization dedicated to radically altering America’s laws through the courts.
  • He has a chilling record that shows an intention to make women who seek abortions criminals, to make voting something only for the privileged, and to place the President beyond the reach of the law.

We have reached the point of insanity.

I can’t sleep at night for fear we will wake up in a few years, staring down the barrel of at least two or three more decades of draconian rule, wondering how we allowed this nightmare to happen to our country — and our children — on our watch. Sometimes as I lay there, I think about the words of Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, the first African-American elected to Congress from my home state of Texas:

My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.

These were her words at a House hearing in 1974 on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. In the same speech, she flatly acknowledged that she hadn’t been considered a person when the Constitution was written, but that it was through the constitutional process of “amendment, interpretation, and court decision” that the Founding Fathers’ “mistake” was fixed.

My hours of introspection about Kavanaugh and the Court have led me to believe the Constitution works as a guidepost for our democracy in part because the Framers recognized their own fallibility. They embedded in the document opportunities for future Americans to interpret language to suit the times and continue their work of creating a “more perfect union.” They also understood that power corrupts and designed the three branches of government to be not only checks and balances, but to provide opportunities for course corrections when we veer off track.

Wow, are we off track right now. And the fight to get our elected representatives to vote no on Kavanaugh’s nomination is so much bigger than this one confirmation. It’s our best opportunity to back away from the precipice and choose a different path. Now is the time to clearly define the values that will guide us through the November elections and beyond into 2020, in the Post-Trump world.

The truth is that the Supreme Court was designed to save us from THIS particular moment in history. We have a President who is hostile to the majority of Americans. He is using the office of the Presidency to consolidate power and wealth for himself and obstruct investigations into his corruption. Congress has proven too weak or too venal to stop him. Observers on both sides of the aisle agree we are on the brink of a constitutional crisis.

The creeping, anti-American extremism of Republican leaders and the forces that fund them have done everything in their power to downgrade our justice system from a separate branch of government, to just another agency working under their control. For more than 30 years, the conservative movement, and their allies in the Senate, have been building towards this moment. The moment they could own the Supreme Court to force their radical agenda on the rest of us. From packing the lower courts to multiple-billion dollar astroturf campaigns to the sheer audacity of blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination — this is their plan. They know the Constitution and history are no longer on their side. They know they cannot win a fair fight, so they are trying to unravel the structure of our democracy.

If our democracy is going to survive, I’m stuck with the inconvenient truth that it is people like you and I who must do everything in our power to stop this blatant power grab through the Supreme Court. If this President and his cronies in Congress succeed in ramming through a thinly-veiled right-wing ideologue like Kavanaugh, their hate-filled, regressive policies will be preserved for generations to come, destroying the Founding Fathers’ vision of freedom and liberty, the wisdom of 250 years of the American experiment, and the future rights of our children.

Republicans in Congress have been working overtime to convince us to lie down in demoralized defeat before the battle even starts. They say Kavanaugh will be confirmed no matter what Democrats do. They say this is business-as-usual with a “qualified” candidate. And yet they are the ones operating with unprecedented secrecy and haste. The norm is for the non-partisan National Archives to handle the nominee’s documents. Instead, they have put Republican lawyers — including one who worked for Kavanaugh — in charge of the process. The norm is for hearings to happen after the Senate has reviewed the nominee’s documents and done their research. Instead, they are holding rush hearings long before most documents will even be released, never mind read by Senators. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put it, “They seem to be more frightened of this nominee’s record and history than any we’ve ever considered.”

But you know what else frightens them? The idea that you — all of us — will believe in our own ability to stop this madness. They are afraid of our power, our patriotism, our righteous rage. They have sacrificed everything — their principles, their integrity, their humanity — to make this last desperate stab at maintaining their minority rule. This is their Hail Mary pass. They see the wave coming to get them this fall and know the only sure way to cement their power is through the courts. Blocking the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh will be the moment we turn the tide away from hate and lies, towards an overwhelming victory in November and the chance to bring our country back together.

Here’s the simple truth: If we fight, we will win. The President chose a weak nominee who is not liked by the American people. Kavanaugh has displayed a disturbing willingness to twist the Constitution to suit his extremist opinions. He would end Roe and criminalize abortion, relegating women to a lower caste of citizens, from which we would not have the liberty to choose our own destiny. He would undermine the right to vote — the most sacred of all rights in a democracy. He would hold the President as beyond the reach of law, so that Americans may never learn the truth about his role in foreign intervention in our elections and, perhaps even more importantly, would never be able to trust the Presidency again.

We only need to convince one Republican Senator to vote no, to step outside their partisan box and onto the side of the people of this country. Far from impossible, this is what we do best: appeal to better angels; make the case for democracy; be relentless in pursuit of the future of our country.

In the American Revolution, it was mostly white men who were in the position to wrest the people’s freedom out of the hands of a tyrant. Today we — We the People, the Resisterhood, the Sustaining Sisters — are the ones in the best position to change the course of history. There are plenty of others who agree that our democracy is in danger — elected officials, foreign leaders, even many conservatives — but we are the ones with the networks, the courage, and the know-how to take this fight to the streets, to our senators’ doorsteps, to our neighbors, to our churches and schools, to our friends, to our aunts and dads, to our children, to all the people we care for, to every person we touch in our communities. When we speak out, when we let our light shine, it lights the fire in others. And if we all raise our voices, if we all join hands, We the People are an unstoppable force. Our country is depending on us.

In solidarity and promise,

Ilyse

If the contents of this letter disturb you, please join us on Sunday in the largest ever single day protest against a Supreme Court nominee in this history of our country. www.uniteforjustice2018.com

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