The Day after Yom Kippur: Facing Mr. Kavanaugh

This coming Thursday, September 20, is scheduled to be the final day of hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Mr. Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to a life-time seat on the Supreme Court.

Thursday  is also the day after Yom Kippur.

There is a traditional Jewish practice that on the evening after the break-fast meal at the end of Yom Kippur, the community drives the first nail in building its sukkah. This practice embodies our commitment that –

  • after prayers for compassion from the Breath of Life to us and from ourselves to others,
  • after prayers that we turn ourselves to affirm our deepest inner truth through action,
  • after hearing the outcry of the Prophet Isaiah on behalf of the poor and the prisoners,
  • we actually take action to begin the building of the sukkah.

To build the house that trembles in the wind, the house where refugees were welcome 3000 years ago as we fled slavery in Egypt, the house that is open to the earthiness of wind and sun and rain, the house that welcomes and celebrates the seventy nations of the world.

I think that on Thursday, a strong opposition to Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would help build the sukkah of an America that is suffering the suffocation of compassion and justice by its government  -- a suffocation that would become worse if Mr. Kavanaugh takes a seat in the Supreme Court.   

So I urge that it is at all possible for you, please come at 9 a.m. on Thursday to the Hart Senate Office Building  at Constitution Ave NE & 2nd St NE, Washington, DC 20002. There will be powerful options for both people who want and people who don’t want to risk arrest in  an act of nonviolent civil disobedience --while in either mode they oppose confirmation of Mr. Kavanaugh..

You can register at but do not need to. If you are coming from a distance, registration may help the organizers try to provide travel subsidies.

Whether or not you can come to DC on Thursday, please start NOW, today, calling two Republican women senators whose votes could tip the balance. Call 202-224-3121 and ask for Senator Collins of Maine. Talk with her staff or leave a recorded message.  Then call again and ask for Sen. Murkowski of Alaska.

Why do I suggest taking these extraordinary steps?

All the evidence we have suggests that Mr Kavanaugh is a smooth and polite Donald Trump.  

For example:

He has refused to say outright that the Roe v. Wade decision that women have a Constitutional right to choose an abortion is settled law, and he has explicitly said the Supreme Court could reverse its decision.  

He was himself directly responsible for trying to prevent a 17-year-old girl who had applied for asylum as a refugee from having an abortion she desperately wanted and needed, and was reversed by a higher official only after delaying so long that the choice was much more complicated.

Just yesterday afternoon, California professor Christine Blasey Ford told the Washington  Post that Kavanaugh and a male friend of his corralled her in a bedroom during a gathering at a house in Maryland in the early 1980s. She says that both boys were "stumbling drunk" and that the friend watched as Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and clumsily tried to pull off her clothes.

She said she tried to scream and Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand.

Ford says she escaped when Kavanaugh's friend jumped on top of them and they tumbled.

The now-53-year-old Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

Ford says she didn't reveal what happened until 2012 during couples therapy with her husband. The Post’s article included an interview with Ms. Ford’s husband and her lawyer, Debra Katz, and described a therapist’s notes from 2012 in which Ms. Ford told of the attack.

Meanwhile, evidence has emerged that strongly suggests Kavanaugh lied under oath during his confirmation hearings for his present judgeship. The issue is whether he knew of the theft of important correspondence of a Democratic Senator by a Republican Party operative. Kavanaugh denied knowing. Newly found emails suggest he did.

His views about the “previous conditions” provision of the Affordable Care Act and about strong regulations to control CO2 and methane emissions suggest he would probably throw them out.

The Trump Administration has refused to release records about his views on US use of torture when he worked for the Bush Administration during the Iraq War. There is no public evidence he objected, and it is very likely he supported the use of torture.

And his statements about Presidential power suggest he would oppose even subpoenaing the President who has appointed him, let alone indicting him, though he supported such actions against President Bill Clinton.  He refused to commit to recuse himself, even on grounds of personal conflict of interest, if such an issue arose before the Court.  

 All this suggests to me that he holds views directly opposite to those of the Prophet Isaiah whose prophetic words we continue to hear every Yom Kippur, 2500 years after he said them.

I urge us to stand with Isaiah.

Shalom, salaam, paz, peace --  Arthur

Jewish and Interfaith Topics: