This spring, the NeW Professional Network has been reading Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court by Carrie Severino and Mollie Hemingway. This #1 National Bestseller gives an insider account of the high stakes and drama of the Kavanaugh confirmation. Meet author Carrie Severino and her thoughts on NeW and the current judicial nomination process.
What motivated you to write this book?
One of my first jobs out of law school was clerking for Justice Clarence Thomas, and many people have rightly noted the uncanny similarity between the smear campaigns launched against Thomas and Kavanaugh. After the Left failed to block Thomas’ confirmation, they didn’t pack up and go home. When Justice Thomas was confirmed, Americans two to one believed him over Anita Hill. But the ensuing decades have seen a continuous campaign of revisionist history everywhere from legal academia, to the media, to HBO. They weren’t content to have hit new lows in civility attempting to block his confirmation; they were dedicated to undermining his decisions on the Court by continuing to attack him. I knew that they would turn to the same playbook for Kavanaugh once he was confirmed. So Mollie Hemingway and I teamed up – a lawyer and a journalist – to get the true story of his confirmation written before the false narratives could set in. We spoke to over 100 people involved in the process, from the President and Vice President, to Senators and Supreme Court justices, to those who had known Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford since high school. We were amazed by how much we, who had followed the process so closely, learned about what happened. And we know it will be important to know our history if we are to have a chance at preventing this travesty of a confirmation process to be repeated.
The current Administration has pointed to judicial confirmations as one of their term’s greatest successes. How has COVID-19 affected this process?
It’s true that judicial confirmations have been a crowning achievement of this administration. No administration in recent memory has placed this high priority on appointing outstanding judges who also have bold records of adhering to the original understanding of the law and the Constitution and who have demonstrated records of courage to show for it. In only three years, Trump appointed 50 appellate judges; Obama appointed 55 in eight years. While the Senate and White House are rightly focusing on addressing COVID-19, nominations are continuing to be made and processed, and Leader McConnell has repeatedly pledged to “leave no vacancy behind.” We have yet to see whether hearings may be held remotely or under special procedures, but I’m confident that judges will continue to be confirmed as the Senate is returning from recess. With so many important questions about the extent of governmental power in this unique national crisis, we more than ever will need judges who are committed to the rule of law and enforcing the Constitution.
Why do you believe is NeW important?
It can be lonely to be a conservative on campus, but it’s also a great opportunity to build community and learn how to defend and explain conservative principles to those around you who are sometimes hostile, but often people simply haven’t heard a conservative perspective articulated before. NeW provides that community and training for young women to help them become leaders for the next generation.