[Browsings] Open Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee | Harper's Magazine

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“Open Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee”


Just as the framers of the Constitution had no way of conceiving of a gun like the AR-15, it’s also unlikely they could’ve imagined that the average American lifespan would become so long—or that nominating Supreme Court justices would become so coveted an opportunity by the executive branch. Even when Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement was merely hypothetical, the White House had publicly named Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh a possible replacement. Given his response to a question about a particular Supreme Court decision in the January-February 1999 issue of Washington Lawyer, it’s easy to see why he would be of interest to the Trump Administration: “[United States v.] Nixon took away the power of the president to control information in the executive branch by holding that the courts had power and jurisdiction to order the president to disclose information in response to a subpoena sought by a subordinate executive branch official.” Yet after Kavanaugh’s nomination, there has been little resistance from the commentariat—with the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times each only publishing one op-ed opposing his confirmation. As protests against Kavanaugh have taken place inside the chambers of Congress and online, United Progressives took a very different tack, purchasing an advertisement in the print edition of the Washington Post. When reached for comment, Steve Clapp, their co-founder, wrote:

“I’ve been a progressive for fifty years. I fought (that’s what protests were then) in the streets of Oakland, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and London against involuntary conscription (the draft), against the longest war in American history and for setting standards of what chemicals and pollutants could be put in the air, the water and land … I’ve interacted with progressives at all levels throughout the years, meeting with some of the national leaders. And though I support Our Revolution, DFA action, Indivisible, Justice Democrats, and Color of Change, and interact with them on social media, I have no official relationship with them. Like the Sixties, progressive action mounted from every corner of the country with individuals and groups initiating their own actions to deal with this historical moment calls for all hands on deck. That’s true grassroots action and pure politics addressing a serious present need—there are no rules, you just do it. The seriousness of the swing vote turning to a consistent fifth vote to roll back all of the social and political progress of the last seventy years is why I wrote the letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. There is an absence of leadership and a clear path forward in this historical moment where a monumental decision is being made while there has effectively been a coup in the executive branch of government. We actually don’t know who is running the United States government. I believe that’s why President Obama came loose and jumped into the fight. With the president under criminal investigation and people in and out of his own administration attesting that he is not mentally fit to discharge the duties of his office, measured leaders should not be taking monumental decisions based on the recommendations of this unstable and perhaps unlawful president. It’s a violation of congressional responsibility, and it is being conducted unlawfully and should be postponed until the new Congress has been seated, and the issue of whether the president is fit to legitimately exercise the duties of his office has been resolved.”

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