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The Senate has lost its way

Roundup
tags: Senate, SCOTUS, Trump, Clement Haynsworth, Brett Kavanaugh, Confirmation



Dov Weinryb Grohsgal is associate research scholar in History and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He has a forthcoming book on the Nixon administration and the politics of school desegregation.

In recent weeks, a great deal of attention has been paid to Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill — and understandably so. Yet, with Sens. Jeff Flake and Susan Collins’s decision to vote for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Friday, ensuring his confirmation, the case of Clement Haynsworth offers another important comparison. The failure of Haynsworth’s nomination sheds light on the crucial need for a Senate that is responsive to democratic politics and deliberative, and one in which partisanship gives way to a shared interest in discovering the truth.

These are precisely the traits missing from the Senate today, at a time when moderation and wisdom are needed more than ever.

A graduate of Furman University and Harvard Law School, Haynsworth served in the Navy during World War II and then practiced law in South Carolina until President Eisenhower nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1957. Eight years later, Haynsworth became the chief judge of that court.

Like Kavanaugh, Haynsworth quickly established himself as a well-respected conservative jurist. And like Kavanaugh, the Senate had confirmed him to sit on the federal bench.

On August 21, 1969, Nixon nominated Haynsworth to the United Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated by Justice Abe Fortas. Assistant Attorney General William Rehnquist was among those charged with vetting the nominee. The FBI conducted what one White House aide at the time called a “slightly more than routine” background check. Haynsworth seemed like a shoo-in.

Then things got messy. ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post

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