Pomp, Piety, MIAs Mark Annual DC Red Mass On Justice

Prominent members of the scandal-stricken Roman Catholic legal leadership in the District of Columbia convened on Sunday for the annual Red Mass that provides a spiritual kick-off to the new Supreme Court term and the legal community's public aspirations for justice.

The ceremony was majestic as usual but unfolded before a slightly smaller audience than normal and under the shadow of unfolding scandal involving the local Catholic-reared Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

cardinal donald wuerl portrait fullCardinal Donald Wuerl, left, was absent from the mass, which he has normally led for most of his 12-year tenure in Washington. Instead, he has recently been awaiting possible sanction from the Vatican for his alleged role in covering-up sexual offenses by priests in Pittsburgh, one of the cardinal's previous postings.

As usual, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts led a delegation from the court to the ceremonies at the historic Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle and a subsequent brunch.

But Roberts was accompanied by only two of the associate judges, Republican Catholic Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer, a Democrat of the Jewish faith.

This editor has attended the Red Mass and brunch a number of times previously and so is in position to comment on its history, inspiring ceremonial and spiritual aspects, as well as some of the embarrassing but largely unspoken undercurrents.

red mass 2018 straight cover MediumThe event first launched in 1928 at the St. Andrews Church in New York City, in 1953 at St. Matthews in the District of Columbia and in a number of other metro areas around the United States.

The event in the nation's capital has attracted the U.S. presidential attendance and more commonly during recent years a majority of the Supreme Court Justices, sometimes including multiple non-Catholics.

The Court in recent years has included six justices reared as Roman Catholics and three Jewish members. Kavanaugh, schooled at the Jesuit school Georgetown Prep, would be another Catholic if confirmed.

But his status is in peril following numerous claims of sexual assault and lying under oath that are surfacing. Kavanaugh has denied wrongdoing (as we and others have reported extensively elswhere, including here) and was not reported as present at the mass on Sunday.

Publically, the mass unfolded as a spiritual and civic occasion framed by the magnificant cathedral and stirring Biblical readings, sacred music and other religious trappings.

Red Mass History and Irony

Here is some history:

"The Red Mass is celebrated annually at the Cathedral, traditionally on the Sunday before the first Monday in October, which marks the beginning of the Suprem Court's annual term," according to the John Carroll Society, which organizes the events. "Its purpose is to invoke God's blessings on those responsible for the administration of justice, as well as on all public officials."

The John Carroll Society is named for a Maryland priest trained by the Society of Jesus. John Carroll, born in 1735, went on to become a prominent member of the Continental Congress and to lobby (along with his brother) for what the Red Mass organizers describe as "a provision in the Constitution prohibiting a religious test for public office in the United States and to include the freedom of religion clause of the Bill of Rights."

Carroll also became the new nation's first papally appointed bishop in 1788 and later archbishop before his death in 1815.

Catholics, while a minority in Protestant-dominated colonial America, have organized heavily during recent years to push the high court towards more decision-making attuned to religious values. One prominent but not unique example is advocacy by many Catholics in tandem with Protestant evangelicals to overturn the 1974 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that found that women have a constitutional right to choose to have an early term abortion in normal circumstances, based on privacy rights. Other examples are advocacy before legislatures and the courts to extend government funding to religion-based schools and other facilities. 

This Year's Mass

Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville took a prominent role in this year's ceremony by welcoming attendees and celebrating the Mass. Among those he cited along with the chief justice were former Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy and two Trump cabinet members: Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. 

anthony kennedy oAs a reflection of the times, our Justice Integrity Project, among others, has published exposés alleging scandal involving all three of these officials.

About Kennedy, left, we raised serious questions on July 1 in New GOP High Court Threatens Massive Public Pain about Kennedy's sudden resignation in June. that paved the way for Trump to nominate Kennedy's former clerk Kavanaugh.

Strong suspicion arises from the close financial relationship between Kennedy's children and Trump's, particularly regarding a huge infusion of money to a Trump family entity at a time of financial stress for the Trump family.

jeff sessions ag oAs for Sessions, right, he has had a longtime role in highly irregular legal practices dating back to his earliest days as a prosecutor in Alabama in the 1970s. Among his many notorious decisions was his recommendation as an Alabama senator that the corrupt GOP state prosecutor Mark Fuller become a federal judge in 2002. Kavanaugh, a radical right Republican partisan involved in the Ken Starr investigation of the Clintons, also facilitated Fuller's nomination when Kavanaugh worked as a presidential aide in the Bush White House.

mark fuller mug shot atlantaFuller went on to help rule Alabama courts as chief judge in the Montgomery district while he helped frame on trumped up corruption charges Don Siegelman, Alabama's former Democratic governor and a longtime target of Republicans Sessions, Fuller and Bush White House senior advisor Karl Rove, as our project and many other reporters have documented in countless investigative articles and broadcasts.

Fuller, shown at left in a mug shot, became involved in several sex scandals before being forced off the federal bench because of his arrest for wife-beating. Siegelman served a seven-year prison term.

Fuller also secretly controlled a major defense company as its largest shareholder, presenting a host of conflicts that the court system refused to correct even when the judge's incentives were obviously compromised by hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid Bush administration contracts to the company while the judge was issuing highly dubious legal rulings in cases important to the administration. We reported on this in 2009 for the Huffington Post in Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company.   

Sessions was an oft-rumored force behind this and many other legal, financial and political irregularities. But he has managed to stay behind the scenes for the most part and remain scandal-free except in occasional investigative reports.

Yet Sessions is widely reported to be on the verge of being forced by Trump to resign after the mid-term elections next month.

Why? Because, ironically enough, Sessions, the first prominent elected official to support Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, took the legally required and otherwise ethical action of recusing himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and related crimes.

alexander acosta labor oAcosta, left, the other cabinet member cited, is a former Bush-nominated U.S. attorney for Miami whom we and others have reported as being involved in many whitewashes and overzealous prosecutions.

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic mariaThe most notorious prosecution supervised by Acosta involved his approval of a sweetheart plea deal whereby federal and state authorities allowed the billionaire pedophile Jeffery Epstein, a friend of Trump among others, to receive a remarkably light sentence and a strange plea deal. Under the deal, authorities were prevented from investigting which of Epstein's celebrity friends might be guilty also of sexual crimes.

The sentence was so light that Epstein was able to spend just 13 months in jail -- and then only at nights, when he could be visited by his mistress 67 times as the New York Post reported. Yet Palm Beach police had documented more than 100 "Jane Doe" sex victims of Epstein's, the vast majority of them junior high school or high school girls.

We have reported on that extensively, including a series reporting that two women have claimed that Epstein and Trump raped them when they were of junior high school age. Our most recent column on this was last February, co-authored with investigative reporter Wayne Madsen: New information emerges in "Maria" Trump story. .

An appendix below and a much longer daily update on notable #MeToo harassment and sexual assault claims provides an overview of such major allegations this year, including the many claims articularly the allegations against Catholic leaders and Kavanaugh. As one example, the Washington Post reported in its account of the Red Mass:

"Wuerl has faced mounting criticism in the archdiocese since a Pennsylvania grand jury report in August indicated he had a mixed record of removing abusive priests from ministry. He wrote in a letter to priests of the archdiocese shortly after Labor Day that he would go to the Vatican to discuss his potential resignation with Pope Francis, but the Vatican has made no announcement yet. Only Francis can decide whether Wuerl should leave his post."

Among the Missing

The Red Mass cachet has been enhanced for many years by the presence of the two most conservative justices on court, both Catholics: Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

antonin scalia HR 1300Scalia died suddenly in February 2016 during a still-mysterious trip to the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a luxury facility in a remote area near the U.S.-Mexican border. The well-funded ultra-right has continued to venerate Scalia and his legal legacy in ways that provide a veneer of authority to his sometimes erratic jurisprudence. He claimed, for example, to defer other branches but which included the activist and unprecedented all-Republican 5-4 court decision to halt the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election, thereby awarding the presidency to George W. Bush in effect.

Promptly after Scalia's still-unresolved questions arose regarding the circumstances, thereby fostering a climate of suspicion and potential hypocrisy that affects even ceremonies like the Red Mass where he no longer shares his ebullient presence.

More specifically, the Washington Post revealed shortly after his death that he was attending a meeting of the St. Hubertus Society, an all-male secret society, at a ranch owned by a billionaire who had had a case recently before the Supreme Court. No autopsy was performed on the justice and thus the cause of death was assumed but not proven to be a heart condition. A variety of other abnormal circumstances surfaced regarding the gathering and death.

Among them was the extreme resistance of those present to identify themselves or for authorities to press for such information, including the normally routine implementation of an autopsy. Perhaps most striking was that only a handful of the three dozen attendees were identified publicly, even though at least one other besides the ranch owner was a Supreme Court litigant.

The veil of deference to Supreme Court justices is very strong. Even a recent biographer of Scalia, University of California at Irvine law school professor Richard Hasen, could tell this reporter in June that Hasan's new biography of Scalia, contains no more information than original mainstream news reports about the attendees or other circumstances of Scalia's death. The book is The Justice of Contradictions:: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption, published in March.

As one of the many little-examined ironies of the court and such ancillary thought-leadership institutions as the church and the media, a scantily funded investigative reporter Wayne Madsen checked into the ranch shortly after the justice's death and reported that the decor included satanic masks and rumors of prostitution activity not incompatible with the ranch's popularity with well-known rock and film stars despite the barren landscape of the locale in West Texas.

Madsen had provided daily updates to this reporter at the time of his reporting, which may be accessed on his subscription-only Wayne Madsen Report. Several of his articles were:

Strange Justice

The Thomas attendance at this year's mass is worth contrasting with the unsavory circumstances of his elevation to the court by a 52-48 Senate confirmation in 1991 after he denied Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment. Thomas, a Catholic, for the most part has established himself as a pious figure in religious circles with his ultra-right opinions, often in tandem with Scalia's. 

But he too has had to withstand criticism for alleged scandal -- and not just from the Anita Hill allegations that the mainstream media is most comfortable in reporting, including in the authoritative account of his life and confirmation Strange Justice, published in 1994 by Jane Meyer and Jill Abramson.

clarence thomas official wIn early 2011, Thomas (shown at right in an official portrait) was exposed as having systematically filed false sworn financial reports for years that, among other things, covered up large amounts of income received by his wife Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative political operative for the Heritage Foundation, among other causes.

The revelations were especially serious because it appeared that the justice's wife had been taking steps in advance of the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision to establish an influence-peddling operation that could benefit the Thomas family from the decision upending federal campaign financing restrictions.

The court's all-Republican, party-line 5-4 decision was particularly suspicious because the plaintiff Citizens United was exactly the advocacy organization whose multi-million dollar broadcast lobbying campaign in favor of the Thomas nomination may have proven instrumental in his narrow confirmation.

As we reported then:

Apparently seeking to cash in on the forthcoming decision, Virginia Thomas obtained $500,000 in November 2009 from real estate mogul Harlan Crow, according to documents now public. The documents show that promptly after the court announced the decision in January 2010 she created Liberty Central, a 501 (c-4) organization that would pay her $495,000 in salary to lead a group that would help corporations perform effectively under the wide-open election system the court put in place nationally.

Even so, Supreme Court justices once confirmed receive so much deference that no prosecutor nor court administrators were willing to undertake sanctions against Thomas despite his seemingly clear-cut false statements about family income.

Thomas also overcame a temporary jolt to his reputation later in 2011 when retired judge and law professor Lillian McEwen, a longtime lover of Thomas in the 1980s, published a memoir revealing such elements of their relationship as their joint attendance at a notorious New York City sex club where they engaged with another woman as a partner, a threesome that belied the carefully nurtured Thomas reputation as a family values, anti-homosexual conservative.

DC Unmasked and Undressed was for the most part a raw and powerful coming-of-age memoir of an African-American girl's miserable childhood with a dysfunctional and often nasty family in segregated Washington, DC -- and her vindication in achieving a successful career in the law in tandem with changing times.

lillian mcewen cover hsIn that sense, the story (which mentions Thomas only a few times) was highly congruent with such themes as those generally shared during the uplifting moments of the Red Mass and similiar occasions in official Washington.

Yet DC Unmasked (whose cover is shown with the author at left) also revealed in a compelling way that larger truths about Washington's power establishment can be inextricably obscured by public masks and hypocrisies that are necessary to achieve and retain power.

McEwen was in a strong position to see and know such things. She describes a largely gratifying five-year affair with Thomas before she broke it off because of what she found his unseemly career ambition to curry favor in wealthy right-wing circles and to adopt a public persona to match his and their goals.

joe biden wMcEwen's own career included prestigious positions as legislative counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee under Chairman Joe Biden, shown at right, as well as her time as a federal prosecutor, a defense attorney, as an adjunct law professor, and as an administrative law judge with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Her time with Biden is particlarly notable because, she says, Biden in chairing the Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991, knew of her long previous relationship with the nominee but was too nervous about the confirmation to have her called as a witness. She says that she would not have wanted to testify anyway because it would have involved discussions of too many secrets.

Forty-six House Democrats called in 2011 for an FBI and / or House impeachment probe. On Oct. 25, a progressive group called Protect Our Elections posted an ad headlined, "Clarence and Virginia Thomas...Bought by Billionaires," and shown below.

Clarence and Virginia Thomas...Bought by Billionaires

The explanatory text for the collage begins:

Virginia, Harlan, Clarence and David have been having a good laugh at our expense. How much longer will we let this go on? America’s citizens have had it with people in power who violate the law. That includes Clarence Thomas, who has used his position as a Supreme Court Justice to flout the law and enrich himself, his wife and their cronies through corrupt backroom deals with billionaires Harlan Crow, and Charles and David Koch.

christine blasey ford sept 27 2018By 2011, McEwen was speaking publicly about her experiences, including at a forum at the National Press Club organized by the Justice Integrity Project. As a forerunner in effect to today's Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford (shown in a file photo), McEwen attacked Thomas, albeit on corruption and not sexual grounds, as we reported in Thomas Must Resign, Says Former Judge, Lover.

All of it came to nothing despite a hushed up FBI investigation. Thomas continued as a much-venerated conservative and regular participant at the Red Mass and such conservative gatherings as Federalist Society events. As the court's longest-serving justice, he again brazened out his role at this year's Red Mass, doubtless glad to appear before a friendly audience.

Few remember all of the details of the Thomas corruption, lying and the power plays of the puppet masters who installed him to deliver decisions that reward his backers during the court's transformation into a mini-legislative body with hidden agendas.

But enough people do remember, as here, so that the cumulative total of the court's hidden powerplays and hypocrisies might, with the addition of a corrupt Kavanaugh, provide an important tipping point in public perceptions of the court as a rubber stamp for oppression, not "justice.".

The Power of Institutions

brett kavanaugh 5 ways to thwart gop court fraud

The reporting above about alleged scandal involving participants in the service is part of the day's news. The big issue, which we have reported extensively elsewhere, revolves around the kinds of allegations described on the graphic above.

But there are other important aspects. This reporter observed, for example, many small scenes of faith, hope, charity and other traditional values and uplift.

For one thing, even such a traditionally high-profile occasion retains populist or "democratic" aspects.

Anyone looking reasonably presentable is welcome to attend the service. A few attendees were informally dressed, wth the men in open-necked shirts. But devotion was not necessarily measured in clothing, as exemplified by a seat neighbor who knew all the words to hymns and responses but attended without jacket or tie.

On a more substantive level, the beauty of the ceremony brought back memories and reflections of my late father's longtime volunteer service to our church in New York City. 

A Republican-oriented business executive born in Illinois farm country, he labored for years in the city as a deacon and then as an elder at the West End Collegiate Church. In that role, he had helped count collection plates and supervise excavation for a new basement. Other church leaders named in his honor one of the basement rooms, where he served for years as the Scoutmaster of a neighborhood Boy Scout troop.

I sang in the choir briefly and attended many other events in the Dutch Reform church, which was affiliated with my school, Collegiate School, founded in 1628 by Dutch settlers and numbering John F. Kennedy Jr. among its students in the 1960s.

The late Fred Trump had served also on that citywide Collegiate church consistory via Trump's prominence at the Marble Collegiate Church, a larger affiliate of the West End church that was led for many years by the famed Rev. Norman Vincent Peale.

In 2014, I mentioned to Donald Trump our fathers' shared service during a special reception reception for Trump (with photo ops) at the National Press Club. But my remark did not  generate any response from the otherwise jovial and friendly Trump, who posed with me one-on-one, as with others at the reception, and with a big smile and thumb's up gesture. That was before his featured pre-campaign speech at the luncheon, which I covered on behalf of the club's "Wire" for members and the public.

jfk jr at jfk funeral stan stearns upi

The power of tradition and low-profile civic service from "Main Street Republicans" like my father of yesteryear struck me strongly as I participated in Sunday's Red Mass service. I recalled also, among other things, the iconic photo of John Kennedy Jr., my future fellow Collegiate alumn, standing on the steps of St. Matthews in 1963 while he saluted as a child the coffin of his father at a memorial service following the JFK assassination.

We have reported here extensively on the solid evidence that Kennedy was killed not by accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald but instead by a plot of powerbrokers with strong grievances, especially regarding Kennedy's plans to end the Vietnam War, dismiss more war-mongers from government, and seek world peace more aggressively.

Current Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a regular attendee at the Red Mass, including this year, was one of the bright young Ivy League law graduates who began their careers by serving on the Warren Commission staff.

It remains an open question why Breyer, the longest-serving Democrat on the court and an acolyte of the Kennedy dynasty, has never dared lead a call for open records or other justice in the case, thereby joining countless other legal and medical scholars and ordinary citizens who have worked for years to unravel the killing.

Public opinion polls have consistently found that well over 60 percent of the American public (sometimes as high as nearly 80 percent) does not believe the Warren Commission's conclusion ascribing all guilt to Oswald and finding that Oswald's killer Jack Ruby had no connection to the mob. Any serious look would find instead that Oswald, a former Marine who had worked on the U-2 spy plane program and other sensitive government matters, was an obvious patsy who had to be murdered to maintain a cover-up. That job fell to the career criminal Ruby, a gun-runner and narcotics trafficker long a soldier in the New Orleans mob empire of Carlos Marcello. But any deep investigation of Ruby's connections would have revealed too much about the power structure at work, as author James Douglass documented in his 2009 book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

Summing up, today's column reverts back to certain timeless themes of service, community and the need for justice even as the tragic allegations of the day taint what we'd like to believe is normal life.

On Sunday, Monsignor Peter Vaghi preached a homily that focused on the Holy Spirit and on the Declaration of Independence, as the Washington Post's reported.

“Could there not be a better time, both in our church and our nation, to benefit from the healing power of the Holy Spirit?” Vaghi said in his only nod to current controversies. “It is a power that treats the anger and divisions that so need the healing touch of our God if we are to continue our respective missions with love, genuine love for each other, and effectiveness.”


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Related News Coverage

Oct. 12

washington post logoWashington Post, Pope accepts Wuerl’s resignation amid criticism of handling of abuse claims, Michelle Boorstein, Oct. 12, 2018. Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation cardinal donald wuerl portrait fullof Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl (shown at right), a trusted papal ally who became a symbol among many Catholics for what they regard as the church’s defensive and weak response to clerical sex abuse.

But even as Wuerl becomes one of the highest-profile prelates to step down in a year of prominent abuse scandals, Pope Francis offered the cardinal a gentle landing, praising him in a letter and allowing him to stay on as “apostolic administrator” in the Washington archdiocese until a successor was found.

In his letter, Francis suggested he had accepted Wuerl’s resignation reluctantly, and said he saw in the cardinal’s request the “heart of a shepherd.” Francis did not criticize Wuerl’s handling of abuse cases, and wrote that Wuerl had “sufficient elements” to defend his actions.

Oct. 8

Supreme Court Swearing-in

djt brett kavanaugh anthony kennedy oct 8 2018 white house

Retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, ceremonially swears-in Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as President Donald Trump looks on, in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 8, 2018. Susan Walsh / AP

abc news logoABC News, Trump apologizes 'on behalf of the nation' to Kavanaugh during swearing-in, claims he was 'proven innocent,' Adam Kelsey and Meridith McGraw, Oct. 8, 2018. President Donald Trump apologized to incoming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Monday evening "for the terrible pain and suffering" that he and his family endured during his confirmation process, going so far as to claim that Kavanaugh was "proven innocent" of the sexual assault allegations made against him.

Trump's comments, which he acknowledged as outside of the norm just prior to making them, came at a ceremonial swearing-in event for Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House, two days after Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate and formally sworn-in as a member of the court by Chief Justice John Roberts.

"On behalf of the nation, I'd like to apologize to Brad and the entire a Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you've been forced to endure," Trump said. "Those who stepped forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation. Not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception."

Trump addressed the controversy head-on characterizing the heated political debate over sexual assault allegations leveled against Kavanaugh by California professor Christine Blasey Ford and several other women as "violat[ing] every notion of fairness, decency and due process."

"[In] our country, a man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty," the president continued. "And with that, I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent."

nbc news logoNBC News, Hillary Clinton calls Kavanaugh's ceremonial swearing-in a 'political rally,' Adam Edelman, Oct. 9, 2018. Trump's remarks at the White House event "further undermined the image and integrity of the court," the former secretary of state said.

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ripped President Donald Trump’s unusual handling of the ceremonial swearing-in for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling the display a "political rally" that "further undermined the image and integrity of the court."

hillary clinton gage skidmore peoria azIn an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, parts of which aired Tuesday morning on the network, Clinton (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) said that the way Trump carried out the event "troubles me greatly."

"What was done last night in the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court," Clinton said, "and that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government."

"So I don't know how people are going to react to it. I think given our divides it will pretty much fall predictably between those who are for and those who are against," she added, calling Trump “true to form.”

"He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign. Really for many years leading up to the campaign — and he's continued to do that inside the White House," Clinton said.

Trump responded on Tuesday to Clinton's comments, saying, "I guess that's why she lost. She never got it."

GOP Election Scandals

brett kavanaugh election fraud wmr graphic

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Exclusive Investigative Commentary: Bush backed Kavanaugh to keep election thefts of 2000 and 2004 a secret, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 8, 2018 (Subscription required, $30 annually; excerpted with permission.)

karl rove HR"Bush White House aides Brett Kavanaugh and Karl Rove, left, closely coordinated their election fraud operations with two experienced Washington campaign advisers for Republican candidates, Rick Davis, and Davis's partner, Paul Manafort."

wayne madsen trumps bananas coverNote: Former Navy intelligence officer, NSA analyst and defense contractor computer scientist Wayne Madsen for many years has exposed techniques to rig U.S. and international elections, electronically and by other methods. He is the author of 16 books, including the just-published "Trump's Bananas Republic," which portrays administration scandals through the lens of iconic Hollywood movies.

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, World has just over a decade to get control of climate change, U.N. scientists say, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis. Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). “There is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the body found.

The report warns of dire consequences if nations do not cut their carbon emissions by more than 1 billion tons per year, a figure that is larger than the annual emissions of nearly every country on the planet.

Supreme Court Battle

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We need to stay angry about Kavanaugh, E.J. Dionne Jr., Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). But even more, we need to vote, organize and think boldly after this travesty.

Republicans rushed through Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to avoid the possible consequences of an election. They aborted a full investigation because they feared what it might find. They made themselves complicit in a presidential attack on Christine Blasey Ford, a brave woman who asked only that her case against Kavanaugh be taken seriously.

After all these outrages, there will be calls for a renewal of civility, as if the problem is that people said nasty things about one other. But the answer to this power grab cannot be passive acceptance in the name of being polite. The causes and consequences of what just happened must be acknowledged frankly.

brett kavanaugh.judgeLThe conservative struggle for the court began in the 1960s, but it hit its stride in the Bush v. Gore decision after after the 2000 election. Five conservative justices violated the principles they claimed to uphold on states’ rights and the use of equal-protection doctrine to stop a recount of votes in Florida requested by Al Gore, the Democratic nominee. They thus made George W. Bush president.

The pro-Bush justices made abundantly clear that they were grasping at any arguments available to achieve a certain outcome by declaring, “our consideration is limited to the present circumstances.” Translation: Once Bush is in, please forget what we said here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justices move to repair Supreme Court’s image after fight over Kavanaugh, Robert Barnes, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). As Brett M. Kavanaugh prepared for his debut on the high court, his colleagues already had moved quickly to paper over the damage from the bitter and tumultuous confirmation battle.

Oct. 7

brett kavanaugh swear in oct 6 2018 ashley

Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as his wife Ashley and two daughters look on, is sworn onto the court by Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Kavanaugh recommended for the court as Bush Administration White House Staff secretary (Supreme Court photo, Oct. 6, 2018). A political precedent used during the Republican installation of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was to rush the swear-in in order to limit the impact of new scandal and protest for the lifetime appointment.

ny times logorepublican elephant logoNew York Times, Kavanaugh Is Sworn In After Close Confirmation Vote in Senate, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday by one of the slimmest margins in American history, locking in a solid conservative majority on the court and capping a rancorous battle that began as a debate over judicial ideology and concluded with a national reckoning over sexual misconduct.

He was promptly sworn in by both Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy — the court’s longtime swing vote, whom he will replace — in a private ceremony.

brett kavanaugh zina bash c span sept 2018

washington post logoWashington Post, Divided Senate confirms Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). The Senate voted to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as the Supreme Court’s 114th justice on Saturday by one of the narrowest margins in the institution’s history, as police stood guard and protesters’ shouts of “shame, shame” echoed through the Senate chamber.

The 50-to-48 vote capped a brutal confirmation fight that underscored how deeply polarized the nation has become under President Trump, who has now successfully placed two justices on the nation’s highest court, cementing a conservative majority.

With Vice President Pence presiding, senators sat in their chairs and rose to cast their votes, repeatedly interrupted by protesters in the visitors’ gallery who yelled out and were removed by Capitol Police. The Supreme Court announced Kavanaugh would be sworn in later Saturday.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Rock bottom’: Supreme Court fight reveals a country on the brink, Michael Scherer and Robert Costa​, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). In the battle over Brett M. Kavanaugh, few of the players emerged from the process unchanged or unblemished, underscoring the uncharted territory of deepening distrust and polarization that now defines the American system.

Oct. 6

Washington Post, ‘Ultimate fighter’: How Trump helped shift momentum in favor of Kavanaugh, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Relying on a hardball approach that left Democrats shaken and defeated, Republican leaders plowed through the chaos of the last few weeks to bring the Supreme Court nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the cusp of confirmation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The High Court Brought Low, The Editorial Board, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Don’t let Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh have the last word about American justice.

The task of plugging the holes and patching the rents in the court’s legitimacy now falls to the justices themselves, mainly to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. (shown at left) He john roberts omust know that every decision of political significance rendered by a 5-to-4 majority that includes a Justice Kavanaugh will, at the very least, appear to be the product of bias and vengeance. If he cares about the integrity of the court as much as he claims to, the chief will do everything in his power to steer the court away from cases, and rulings, that could deepen the nation’s political divide.

There’s work the rest of us can do as well.

We can, for one thing, find ways in our own workplaces and communities to assure victims of sexual assault that they will be respected if they come forward, even if so many national political figures are dismissive of them.

And if we disapprove of the direction of the courts, we can put the lessons Mitch McConnell taught us to work — and vote.

It’s worth noting that, of the five justices picked by Republicans, including Judge Kavanaugh, four were nominated by presidents who first took office after losing the popular vote. And the slim majority of senators who said they would vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh on Saturday represent tens of millions fewer Americans than the minority of senators who voted to reject him. The nation’s founders were wise to design the court as a counter-majoritarian institution, but they couldn’t have been picturing this.

Most Americans are not where this Senate majority is. They do not support President Trump. They do not approve of relentless partisanship and disregard for the integrity of democratic institutions. And they have the power to call their government to account.

washington post logoWashington Post, Grassley suggests absence of GOP women on Judiciary Committee is due to its heavy workload, Paul Kane, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s inability to attract Republican women might be caused by its heavy workload, a remark the panel’s chairman tried to retract a few minutes later.

“It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it,” Grassley told the Wall Street Journal, NBC News and other outlets, as he headed toward the Senate floor for a speech by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The committee, which has turned into a partisan hotbed in the past five years, has never had a Republican woman serve on it, even as the Senate’s ranks have doubled from three to six female GOP senators in recent years.

That omission drew more scrutiny during the second round of hearings for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, during which committee Republicans hired a female prosecutor from Arizona to question Christine Blasey Ford about her allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.

washington post logomitch mcconnell2Washington Post, The politicians and players whose legacies will be shaped by the Kavanaugh fight, Amber Phillips, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). How they navigated the emotionally fraught Supreme Court nomination battle could define their careers. This was a Supreme Court nomination that will go down in the history books. If confirmed, Kavanaugh will have overcome accusations of sexual misconduct and assault, questions about his judicial temperament and surprise delays to his confirmation.

Oct. 5

Roll Call, Kavanaugh Nomination Clears Key Hurdle, Final Vote Teed Up, John T. Bennett, Oct. 5, 2018. Embattled federal judge Brett Kavanaugh moved one step closer to becoming the ninth Supreme Court justice and providing a decisive fifth conservative vote Friday when the Senate voted to tee up a final up-or-down vote.

lisa murkowski oIn a vote that broke mostly along party lines after several deeply partisan weeks that culminated with a FBI investigation into sexual misconduct charges against Kavanaugh dating to his high school days, the chamber voted to end debate on his nomination, 51-49.

There were a couple of party defections. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, right, voted against cutting off debate, while Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., voted “yes” to cut off debate. The result means the Senate is poised to decide his fate in a high-stakes Saturday vote.

Roll Call, Susan Collins Will Vote ‘Yes’ on Kavanaugh Nomination, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2018. Maine Republican had kept her position on the Supreme Court nomination under wraps. Sen. Susan Collins will vote “yes” on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, one of the last remaining hurdles to the high court susan collins ofor President Donald Trump’s nominee.

Earlier on Friday, the Maine Republican voted to cut off debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination, helping her leadership clear a key hurdle and setting up a final confirmation vote on Saturday. Collins is one of only two Republicans senators serving who voted to confirm Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, both of whom were nominated by former President Barack Obama. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is the other one.

Roll Call, Joe Manchin a Yes on Kavanaugh Nomination and Might Be Only Democrat, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2018. Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to joe manchin othe Supreme Court, and might end up the only Democrat to do so.

“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing. And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life. However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently democratic donkey logocompleted FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him. I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court,” Manchin said in a statement.

Manchin announced his decision moments after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, virtually guaranteeing the federal circuit court judge’s ascent to the high court.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Moves Toward Showdown Vote on Kavanaugh Confirmation, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 5, 2018. Republican leaders were increasingly confident that the Senate would narrowly vote to cut off debate on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination and move to a final confirmation on Saturday. But with four senators, including three Republicans, still undecided, Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation was still not assured.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: If Kavanaugh is confirmed, impeachment could follow. Here’s how, Deanna Paul, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). Whether Kavanaugh returns to the D.C. Circuit or, as appears increasingly likely, is confirmed to the Supreme Court, impeachment proceedings could follow. They would be contingent on Democrats regaining control of the House, the only body that can bring an article of impeachment.

brett kavanaugh“Much of Washington has spent the week focusing on whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court,” Lisa Graves wrote in a Slate column on Sept. 7, more than a week before the New Yorker published the then-anonymous sexual assault claims of Christine Blasey Ford. “After the revelations of his confirmation hearings, the better question is whether he should be impeached from the federal judiciary. I do not raise that question lightly, but I am certain it must be raised.”

Graves wrote that Kavanaugh, right, had misled the Judiciary Committee about the stolen documents that Graves had written as chief counsel for nominations for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) when he was the chairman of the committee. Kavanaugh, she wrote, “lied. Under oath. And he did so repeatedly.” Therefore, she concluded, “he should not be confirmed. In fact, by his own standard, he should clearly be impeached.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Kavanaugh: I said things I ‘should not have said’ at hearing, Eli Rosenberg, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the judge tacitly acknowledges the questions being raised about his conduct and emotions. john paul stevens scotus photo portrait

washington post logoWashington Post, Retired Justice Stevens calls Kavanaugh’s hearing performance disqualifying, Robert Barnes, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). Retired Justice John Paul Stevens said Thursday that he no longer believes Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court, citing Kavanaugh’s heated performance during a Senate hearing last week.

Stevens, 98 (shown in a file photo), made the comments in Boca Raton, Fla., before a group of retirees, according to the Palm Beach Post and the journalist who interviewed Stevens at the event.

Future of Freedom Foundation, The Looming Degradation of the Supreme Court, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 5, 2018.  With Republican senators dutifully lining up to support President Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court, it is increasingly likely that conservative lawyer and judge Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. At the same time, in its determination to “win,” the Republican Party will have brought not only shame to itself but also a degradation in prestige to the highest court of the land.

A couple of days ago, more than 500 law professors from more than 160 law schools across the nation had signed a public letter opposing Kavanaugh’s appointment. As a trial lawyer for 12 years before I joined the libertarian movement and who still is authorized to practice law in my home state of Texas, I was absolutely stunned. In all my life, I had never seen that happen. Sure, law professors have their own political philosophies and affiliations but I had never seen so many of them come together to take a public stand against a particular Supreme Court nominee, especially one who sits as a judge on the federal court of appeals.

Imagine my shock when that number increased a couple of days later to 2,400 law professors opposing the Kavanaugh nomination! The term used by the New York Times expressed my reaction: “Incomprehensible!”

That was on top of the withdrawal of support for Kavanaugh’s nomination immediately after he testified by the American Bar Association, which has 400,000 members, and the dean of the Yale Law School, where Kavanaugh got his law degree. What was phenomenal about this was that both the ABA and the Yale law school dean had previously supported Kavanaugh’s appointment.

Then, in what I believe is also an unprecedented act, a retired Supreme Court justice, John Paul Stevens, came out and declared that Kavanaugh lacks the required temperament to be a Supreme Court justice, which is what those 2,400 law professors are also saying.

Contrary to what conservative supporters of Kavanaugh have maintained, the primary issue in the Kavanaugh controversy does not revolve around the issue of whether a lawyer’s actions as a teenager should disqualify him from later serving on the Supreme Court. That, of course, is a interesting issue, but it isn’t the issue at hand. If Kavanaugh had confessed to sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford as a 17-year-old, expressed remorse for it, apologized, and sought forgiveness, then the Senate would be faced with that issue: Should what he did 36 years ago disqualify him from serving on the highest court in the land?

Instead, there are three primary issues in this controversy: (1) Did Kavanaugh commit the sexual assault on Christine Blasey Ford and, if so, should that make a difference with respect to his appointment to the Supreme Court? (2) Did he commit perjury with his denial of having committed the offense and, equally important, with respect to other matters in his sworn testimony and, if so, should that make a difference to his appointment to the Supreme Court? and (3) Does Kavanaugh have the necessary temperament to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court?

As the controversy has unfolded, it has become painfully clear that perjury just isn’t important to conservatives, at least to conservatives who aren’t lawyers. Time and time again, in addressing the controversy, they ether have glossed over the possibility that Kavanaugh committed perjury or made it clear that it just doesn’t matter to them. It’s no big deal. Let’s just have a quick, 3-day, cursory, sham investigation, confirm the guy, and then “move on.”

washington post logoWashington Post, The rise and the reckoning: Inside Brett Kavanaugh’s circles of influence, Marc Fisher, Ann E. Marimow and Michael Kranish, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). The story of President Trump’s embattled choice for the Supreme Court is a classic Washington tale of a young man who grew up surrounded by people in high places, keenly aware of protecting his image. He told a friend in college that he didn’t plan to buy stocks as an adult because he had to avoid conflicts if he wanted to follow in his mother’s footsteps as a judge.

brett kavanaugh 1983 yearbookKavanaugh’s story is also one of the power and insularity of wealth. He grew up in an idyll of country clubs and beach retreats, private schools and public prominence. The only child of a lobbyist and a judge, he had parents who pushed him hard, teachers who assured him that he faced no limits, and friends whose families knew the art of making problems go away quietly.

That Kavanaugh (shown in a prep school yearbook photo) would achieve greatness seemed certain. Some of his classmates called him “The Genius.” They liked him because he was smart and fun. Women found him thoughtful and empathetic. Men said he was a guy’s guy — a walking encyclopedia of sports, a good pal, always up for a beer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Celebrating kegs and insulting girls: Inside Mark Judge’s 1980s Georgetown Prep underground paper, Ian Shapira, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). The Unknown Hoya, co-founded by Judge, featured heavy drinking, a stripper-fueled bachelor party and slurs about Holton-Arms girls.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Exclusive: Kavanaugh Father-Son Cancer Powder Keg, Doug Vaughan, Oct. 5, 2018. If Justice Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate, sooner or later he may be asked to weigh some damning evidence — that his own father advocated for a product that he knew was carcinogenic to both mothers and fetuses. Unless he recuses himself.

The ironies are piquant: While the son attended private, single-sex religious schools and adopted the traditional Catholic opposition to abortion, and even birth control, on the grounds the government should regulate women’s use of their own bodies and reproduction, the father made millions from the industry that marketed and sold female personal hygiene products — while keeping the government from guarding the consumers’ health and safety.

It’s no exaggeration that, if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, stuff like baby powder will have smoothed his slide into a seat on the highest court in the land.

More than 10,000 active claims in US courts, mostly by women, allege that they got cancer from regular use of talcum products like baby powder. In one case last summer, a jury in Missouri awarded $4.7 billion to a group of 20 such women who sued the biggest manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson — for promoting its products while hiding evidence of the risks to women, their reproductive organs, and their babies.

Sooner or later, one of these cases is likely to come to the Supreme Court. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, and if he fails to recuse himself, Justice Brett Kavanaugh will be asked to consider evidence that his father, Ed, helped J&J market such products — even though they knew they were carcinogenic. Kavanaugh Sr.’s former employer is one of the named defendants in some of the biggest class-action cases filed so far.

More On Susan Collins Vote

george hw bush and son

ryan grim CustomThe Intercept: Analysis: Sen. Susan Collins and Brett Kavanaugh Are Both in the Bush Family Inner Circle. That Helps Explain Her Vote, Ryan Grim, right, and Akela Lacy, Oct., 5, 2018. The announcement Friday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was about family. Namely, the Bush family.

George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush [shown above in a file photo] have both been welcomed into the ranks of the resistance to President Donald Trump, but their most consequential action since his election has been to help lift Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court.

susan collins oCollins, left, is an honorary member of the Bush family. She got her start in politics as a congressional aide to Rep.-turned-Sen. William Cohen. The Maine Republican was close to George H.W. Bush, who has long maintained a presence in the state. At the end of the first Bush administration, Collins was appointed New England regional director of the Small Business Administration. In 1996, she was elected to the Senate to replace her mentor, Cohen.

Kavanaugh, too, has longstanding ties to the Bush family. He served as an attorney for George W. Bush’s campaign, playing a major role in the legal battle between Bush and Al Gore. He then served as staff secretary in the Bush White House, a position of intimate influence — the staff secretary attends most Oval Office meetings and is a trusted sounding board for the president.

In the weeks after Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault during his high school and college years, Bush personally called wavering senators, lobbying on the nominee’s behalf. Collins, who had said she would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade, was one of those wavering senators. In August, HuffPost reported, citing a source close to Collins’s staff, that Collins had assured the White House that she would support Kavanaugh if he were nominated. (She has denied that.)

Collins has since said that the decision was a difficult one, though there was no hint of that agonizing in her Senate floor speech Friday, which was a full-throated defense of Kavanaugh and a prosecution of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations.

In the end, Collins suggested that she hoped Kavanaugh’s nomination would restore the faith of Americans in the Supreme Court, easing partisan tensions and decreasing the number of 5-4 decisions the court handed down. It’s difficult to rationalize the idea that a nomination as contentious as this would usher a return to a more harmonious era of bipartisan collaboration.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The sheer insanity of what Susan Collins just did, Bill Palmer, Oct. 5, 2018. Why? It’s the only question left to ask after GOP Senator Susan Collins not only voted for screaming liar and alleged serial sex offender Brett Kavanaugh, but made a point of doing it in the most jarring and self defeating manner possible. It raises uncomfortable and scary questions about what might really be going on here.

susan collins official SmallSusan Collins has never been a party loyalist. In the past two years alone, she’s cast multiple deciding votes against the GOP on major issues, including the attempted Obamacare repeal, and the original Senate Intelligence Committee decision to investigate the Trump-Russia scandal. So no matter how many social media posts might claim that “Collins voted this way because she always votes the party line,” that’s a factually false statement. No, this has to be about something else.

If Susan Collins had decided that she needed to cast a very unpopular “yes” vote on Kavanaugh for the sake of her reelection prospects (translation: billionaire conservative donors), she could have quietly cast her vote and hoped people might forget by 2020. Instead, she took outlandish steps to make sure people never forget what she did today. There are simply not enough pro-Trump extremists in Maine to give her even a remote chance at reelection.

One of the meekest people in the Senate knowingly ended her career today with both proverbial middle fingers in the air. It was one of the ugliest things that American politics has ever seen, and it simply made no sense. Is she being blackmailed, or did she just snap today?

Time, 'Such a Slap in the Face.' Sexual Assault Survivors Who Met With Susan Collins Feel Betrayed She'll Vote for Kavanaugh, Charlotte Alter, Oct. 5, 2018. Last Thursday night, time logo ogAmanda O’Brien sat on a bus for 10 hours to get from Maine to Washington D.C. to meet with Sen. Susan Collins and share her opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The bus was full of sexual assault survivors, who shared their stories with their seat mates as they crawled toward the Capitol.

O’Brien, who wore black like the rest of the survivors, tried to prepare herself. When she and a handful of other survivors got to the Senator’s office on Friday, she told Senator Collins that she had been sexually assaulted for years as a young child. She told her because of the impact of the assault, she later became the victim of domestic violence. She told her Senator things she has rarely told anyone, things she would still rather not repeat.

But on Friday afternoon, Collins announced her intention to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh, all but ensuring that Trump’s pick will sit on the Supreme Court, despite Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony that he pinned her to a bed and tried to rape her when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh denies Ford’s allegation.

Oct. 4

New York Times, Two Key Republicans Signal Satisfaction With F.B.I.’s Kavanaugh Inquiry, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 4, 2018. Two key undecided senators signaled Thursday that they are satisfied with the F.B.I.’s investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Senate Republican leaders were increasingly confident that he would be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

jeff flake oSenators Jeff Flake of Arizona, right, and Susan Collins of Maine did not say that they will vote for Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee.

But after a closed-door briefing in which Republicans were told that no witnesses corroborated the accounts of Judge Kavanaugh’s main accusers, both made positive remarks. A yes vote from both would secure Judge Kavanaugh’s seat on the highest court in the land.

Roll Call, Amy Schumer, Emily Ratajkowski Among Hundreds Arrested Protesting Kavanaugh, Griffin Connolly, Oct. 4, 2018. Demonstrators flocked to Hart Senate Office Building after USCP cordons off East Front. The U.S. Capitol Police arrested hundreds of people protesting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s pending confirmation in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday.

Protesters initially planned to hold their rally on the East Front of the Capitol, but USCP cordoned off the area Thursday morning. So the thousands of demonstrators streamed into the Hart building, chanting and singing against Kavanaugh, whom multiple women have accused of sexual assault.

Roll Call, Heidi Heitkamp Will Vote No on Kavanaugh Nomination, Niels Lesniewski, Oct. 4, 2018. North Dakota Democrat is in a tight re-election campaign. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat leading Roll Call’s list of most vulnerable senators on the ballot this fall, announced Thursday that she’ll vote against confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the heidi heitkamp oSupreme Court. “The process has been bad, but at the end of the day you have to make a decision, and I’ve made that decision,” the North Dakota Democrat told WDAY, the ABC affiliate in Fargo, N.D. “I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh.”

Heitkamp explained her decision to opposed Kavanaugh in light of her decision last year to support President Donald Trump's first nominee to the high court, Neil neil gorsuch headshotGorsuch, left.

“I voted for Justice Gorsuch because I felt his legal ability and temperament qualified him to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh is different. When considering a lifetime appointment to Supreme Court, we must evaluate the totality of the circumstances and record before us. In addition to the concerns about his past conduct, last Thursday’s hearing called into question Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, honesty, and impartiality. These are critical traits for any nominee to serve on the highest court in our country,” she said.

Heitkamp’s decision to oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court means that Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia is the only member of the Democratic caucus potentially favoring the confirmation of Kavanaugh.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Sends F.B.I. Interviews on Kavanaugh to Senate, Peter Baker, Nicholas Fandos, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). The White House sent summaries of the interviews, expressing confidence that they would not stop Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The material was conveyed in the middle of the night, just hours after Senate Republicans set the stage for a pair of votes later in the week.

FBI logoSenior White House officials, after reviewing summaries of interviews conducted by the F.B.I., are increasingly confident that the information collected would ease the path for senators to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a person briefed on the findings said Thursday morning.

The material was conveyed to Capitol Hill in the middle of the night, just hours after Senate Republicans set the stage for a pair of votes later in the week to move to approve Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. A statement issued by the White House around 2:30 a.m. said the F.B.I. had completed its work and that it represented an unprecedented look at a nominee.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump and G.O.P. Lash Out at Kavanaugh’s Accuser. But at What Risk? Peter Baker, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). For more than two weeks he held christine blasey ford sept 27 2018back. Against all his instincts, President Trump for the most part resisted directly attacking the woman whose sexual assault allegation has jeopardized his Supreme Court nomination. The accuser was to be treated with kid gloves, like “a Fabergé egg,” as one adviser put it.

But Mr. Trump could resist only so long and told aides it was time to turn up the heat. So when he revved up a political rally this week by mocking Christine Blasey Ford, right, he indulged his desire to fight back and galvanized his conservative base even at the risk of alienating the very moderate Republicans he needs to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh. Signed, 1,200+ Law Professors (and Counting), Oct. 4, 2018. We have differing views about Kavanaugh’s qualifications. But we are united in believing he does not have the right judicial temperament.

The following letter will be presented to the United States Senate on Oct. 4. It will be updated as more signatures are received. Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.”

ben sasse o croppedOmaha World-Herald, In emotional speech, Ben Sasse says he told Trump to nominate a woman to Supreme Court, Joseph Morton, Oct. 4, 2018. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., right, delivered an emotional floor speech Wednesday night rejecting suggestions that the vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is about whether lawmakers care about women.

“A Supreme Court confirmation vote isn’t a grand choice about whether we love our daughters or whether we trust our sons,” Sasse said. “That is not the choice before us. This is a consent decision about one person for one seat.”

Sasse, a member of the Judiciary Committee, revealed that before the nominee had been announced he urged President Donald Trump to nominate a woman to the seat.

Part of his argument at the time, Sasse said, was that the Senate is poorly prepared to handle potential allegations of sexual harassment and assault that might come forward. Sasse choked up at times during the speech that lasted a little less than 20 minutes. He decried the circus surrounding the process, cable news and die-hard partisans seeking to use the nomination for cynical political aims.

He also had harsh words for Trump, particularly the president’s mocking of Ford during a Tuesday night political rally and his previous statements questioning why Ford did not report the incident at the time.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Here’s a list of people the FBI did NOT interview, Greg Sargent, Oct. 4, 2018. Okay with this, Flake and Collins? You’ll be shocked to hear that the White House has already pronounced the FBI report entirely exonerating for Kavanaugh, claiming that it is now “fully confident” Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

FBI logoBut a lot of new reporting has now emerged that starkly illustrates just how much about the new allegations was not investigated by the FBI. It’s important to note that this probably was not a failing on the FBI’s part but rather was the result of restrictions the White House placed on the probe, a process that itself remains shrouded in disingenuous rhetorical games.

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Trump-Kavanaugh Look-Alike Theory, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 4, 2018. In deciding to go on the attack in the Kavanaugh confirmation debate by openly and publicly mocking Christine Blasey Ford at a political rally for purported “inconsistencies” in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Trump might not realize that he has created an enormous inconsistency in his own position.

Actually, “contradiction” would be a better word to use. Moreover, Trump might not realize that he has left his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, hanging out on a limb all by himself.

Oct. 3

Washington Post, White House prepares to send new FBI report on Kavanaugh to Senate, Seung Min Kim, John Wagner and Josh Dawsey, Oct 3, 2018. The latest FBI probe updating the Supreme Court nominee’s background check was set to arrive Wednesday night on Capitol Hill, according to two people familiar with its release. White House officials have been briefed on the findings, they said. The developments came as Senate Democrats suggested that past FBI background checks of Brett M. Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior.

washington post logoWashington Post, As FBI check nears its end, probe appears to have been highly curtailed, Matt Zapotosky, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Tom Hamburger and Devlin Barrett, Oct 3, 2018.  The FBI has interviewed six witnesses and has not been allowed to probe the nominee's youthful drinking, opening it up to criticism over what some will view as a lackluster investigation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion; 650 law professors: The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh, staff report, Oct. 3, 2018. The following letter will be presented to the United States Senate on Oct. 4. It will be updated as more signatures are received.

Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.” The concern for judicial temperament dates back to our founding; in Federalist 78, titled “Judges as Guardians of the Constitution,” Alexander Hamilton expressed the need for “the integrity and moderation of the judiciary.”

We are law professors who teach, research and write about the judicial institutions of this country. Many of us appear in state and federal court, and our work means that we will continue to do so, including before the United States Supreme Court. We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.

The question at issue was of course painful for anyone. But Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry. Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners. Even in his prepared remarks, Judge Kavanaugh described the hearing as partisan, referring to it as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” rather than acknowledging the need for the Senate, faced with new information, to try to understand what had transpired. Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators.

As you know, under two statutes governing bias and recusal, judges must step aside if they are at risk of being perceived as or of being unfair. As Congress has previously put it, a judge or justice “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” These statutes are part of a myriad of legal commitments to the impartiality of the judiciary, which is the cornerstone of the courts.

We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh. But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that he did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: One of Brett Kavanaugh’s key GOP Senate defenders suddenly sounds nervous about holding a vote, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 3, 2018. We all witnessed Republican Senator John Cornyn use his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee last week to try to help a mentally unstable Brett Kavanaugh through his testimony. There is no doubt that Cornyn, who is as corrupt as they come, is a “yes” vote. But now congressional reporter Chad Pergram says that Cornyn suddenly doesn’t want to rush the Kavanaugh vote, and wants to “do it one step at a time” instead. So what’s going on here?

So does John Cornyn know something that Mitch McConnell doesn’t? Or are they simply unable to agree on how to play their increasingly weak hand? McConnell has been trying to bully the likes of Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins into voting “yes” even though they’re clearly not “yes” votes, but last night Murkowski all but laughed at McConnell’s tactics. We still don’t know how this vote is going to turn out, but it doesn’t appear the GOP does, either.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump and McConnell sink to desperate new lengths to protect Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Oct. 3, 2018. Just how dirty is Brett Kavanaugh? All you have to do is take a look at the desperate lengths Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are going to in the name of not only protecting Kavanaugh from the FBI investigation, but keeping the final FBI report hush-hush.

christine blasey ford sept 27 2018Dianne Feinstein has confirmed that, as expected, the FBI will not be allowed to interview Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (right) – but that’s just the half of it.

It’s fairly clear why the FBI isn’t allowed to interview Ford. It’s not to prevent her from telling her story, which she’s already done before the Senate; the FBI has full access to her congressional testimony. Instead, by blocking the FBI from speaking with Ford, Trump and McConnell are also blocking the FBI from speaking with Kavanaugh – which is the entire point. Kavanaugh has already revealed himself to be a pathological liar, and if he lies to the FBI, he’ll go to prison. But the real panic move here is with the report itself.

USA Today and others are now reporting that there will only be one copy of the FBI report on Brett Kavanaugh, and that Senators will each have to take turns reading it. Senate Democrats will still be able to quickly leak the ugliest parts of the report to the public. But the goal here is, obviously, to prevent the public from seeing the full text.

This confirms that, even with the limitations placed on the FBI investigation by Trump and McConnell, they still expect that the FBI report will paint Brett Kavanaugh in a terrible light. This means that Trump and McConnell are playing with an even weaker hand here than we thought.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Taunts Christine Blasey Ford at Rally, At an event in Mississippi, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). President Trump mocked the woman who accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault. He imitated her, exaggerating her responses at last week’s hearing. The crowd cheered.

washington post logojeff flake oWashington Post, ‘Just plain wrong’: Flake, Collins criticize Trump’s attack on Ford, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim​, Oct. 3, 2018. Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), right and Susan Collins (Maine) are considered crucial to the confirmation prospects of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.

washington post logoWashington Post, Breaking: Senate Democrats suggest past FBI background checks on Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 3, 2018. Senate Democrats suggested in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman on Wednesday that past FBI background checks on Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior, contrary to Republican claims.

In the letter, eight of the 10 Democrats on the Judiciary panel challenged the accuracy of a tweet from the majority Republicans on Tuesday that said: “Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports, which the committee has reviewed on a bipartisan basis, was there ever a whiff of ANY issue — at all — related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.”

The Democrats said the information in the tweet is “not accurate,” and urged the GOP to correct them. Aides to the committee chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), did not return an immediate request for comment.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Senators, if you think you are ‘appalled’ now, just wait, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 3, 2018. Appearing on the “Today” show, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) reacted to President Trump’s mocking of Christine Blasey Ford at a political rally Tuesday night. “There’s no time and no place for remarks like that. But to discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right … It’s kind of appalling.”

susan collins oThis echoes the reaction of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) when Trump first attacked Ford by tweet, saying if the attack was “that bad,” the teen Ford would have gone to the police. Collins, left, said: “I was appalled by the president’s tweet.”

There is plenty to appall:

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s baseless allegation that he was the victim of a smear stemming from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss; Kavanaugh’s obnoxious retorts to Democratic senators, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) calling for Klobuchar to apologize; Republicans’ objections to any investigation of Ford’s claims; Republicans’ repeated, false assertion that there is no corroboration for Ford’s accusation (ignoring her polygraph, her prior remarks, Kavanaugh’s calendar entry for July 1); Republicans’ decision to hide behind a female “assistant” (as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to prosecutor Rachel Mitchell) and then discard her in favor of hysterical rants; apparent efforts to curtail the FBI investigation; Ed Whelan’s defamatory accusation aimed at a classmate of Kavanaugh’s; and Kavanaugh’s seeming mischaracterization of his drinking habits and high school references to sex and drinking.

Oct. 2

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI gets longer leash on Kavanaugh probe as McConnell signals vote is imminent, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim and Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). The inquiry will include sexual misconduct allegations from a third woman against Brett M. Kavanaugh. But the FBI won’t conduct an unfettered review of his youthful drinking.

FBI logony times logoNew York Times, The People the F.B.I. Has Interviewed in the Kavanaugh Investigation (and Those It Hasn’t), Karen Yourish and Troy Griggs, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). Republicans offered the bureau four witnesses; Democrats have called for more than a dozen additional people to be interviewed.

People who were on the Republicans’ list and have been interviewed:

-- Deborah Ramirez, Yale classmate, The second woman to accuse Judge Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct; she said he exposed himself to her at a dorm room party.

-- Mark Judge, Judge Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmate, Named by Dr. Blasey and a third accuser as being a key witness to the alleged sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh. “I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes,” he said.

-- P.J. Smyth, Georgetown Prep classmate; Dr. Blasey said he was at the house party, “I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct.”

-- Leland Keyser, Dr. Blasey’s high school friend, Said she does not remember being at the party during the summer of 1982 but believes Dr. Blasey.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘The trauma for a man’: Male fury and fear rises in GOP in defense of Kavanaugh, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). Trump slams Democrats for 'trying to destroy' Kavanaugh (shown below in a file photo of his testimony).

brett kavanaugh screen grab 9 5 2018 at 3 56 pmThe sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh have sparked a wave of unbridled anger and anxiety from many Republican men, who say they are in danger of being swept up by false accusers who are biased against them.

From President Trump to his namesake son to Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the howls of outrage crystallize a strong current of grievance within a party whose leadership is almost entirely white and overwhelmingly male — and which does not make a secret of its fear that demographic shifts and cultural convulsions could jeopardize its grip on power.

This eruption of male resentment now seems likely to play a defining role in the midterm elections just five weeks away, contrasting with a burst of enthusiasm among women propelling Democratic campaigns and inspired by the national #MeToo reckoning over sexual assault and gender roles.

Legal Schnauzer, In anonymous letter to Sen. Kamala Harris, woman says Kavanaugh groped her, slapped her, forced her to perform oral sex, and raped her in backseat of car, Roger Shuler, Oct. 2, 2018. A woman states in an anonymous letter that Brett Kavanaugh forcibly kissed her, groped her, digitally penetrated her, slapped her, forced her to perform oral sex, and raped her multiple times in the backseat of a car, according to a Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) transcript released yesterday.

The transcript, which is embedded at the end of this post, is from an interview SJC staff members conducted with Kavanaugh on Sept. 26. Kavanaugh apparently had an unnamed attorney present on his end of the line during the interview.

When Kavanaugh is asked for a response to the letter, he replies: "Nothing -- the whole thing is ridiculous. Nothing ever -- anything like that, nothing. I mean, that's -- the whole thing is just a crock, farce, wrong, didn't happen, not anything close."

Oct. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Vatican’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints about ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick reveals a lot about the Catholic Church, Michelle Boorstein​, Oct. 1, 2018.  The story behind the four complaints to Rome about the former archbishop of Washington helps explain why the allegations against him remained hidden for so long.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amid fight over Kavanaugh, annual Red Mass for Supreme Court skips the politics, Julie Zauzmer, Sept. 30, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has touted his Catholic faith throughout his nomination hearings, was not spotted at the annual service.

red mass 2018 straight cover MediumAs the nation focuses on the bitter fight over Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, Washington’s Catholic cathedral held its annual Red Mass honoring Supreme Court justices and the judiciary on Sunday — with nary a word about the debate over whether to confirm President Trump’s pick.

Kavanaugh has touted his Catholic faith throughout his nomination hearings, including on Thursday when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to an allegation that he sexually assaulted a high school classmate in the early 1980s. But Kavanaugh, who was invited to the Mass as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was not spotted in the pews.

Members of the John Carroll Society, the Washington-area Catholic professional organization that hosts the annual Red Mass (as well as a Rose Mass to honor medical professionals), said afterward that they were pleased that the service steered clear of politics. But others said they entered the cathedral with the morality play that is unfolding in the Senate weighing on their minds.

“I was really offended that the homily didn’t mention” Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh assaulted her, Melissa Byrne said. Ford alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland.

Byrne, who said she was raised Catholic, attended the Mass wearing a bright purple shirt that said “I believe survivors.”

“They had an audience of people that had actual power, and didn’t use the homily to talk about the children who are incarcerated, to talk about believing women. It was a waste of the power of the church,” Byrne said.

Another woman exiting the Mass at the same time as Byrne cut in: “I totally disagree. It’s a church. Church is not meant to be political.” The woman, who did not want to provide her name to a reporter, then criticized the small group of protesters who were standing across the street from the cathedral chanting, “We believe survivors.”

Sept. 29

washington post logocardinal donald wuerl portrait fullWashington Post, Abuse settlement from 2005 with Cardinal Wuerl’s name raises questions, Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer, Sept. 29, 2018 (print edition). Cardinal Donald Wuerl, shown at right, who has said that he didn’t know about sexual misconduct complaints involving Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was named in a 2005 settlement agreement that included allegations against McCarrick, according to the accuser and documents obtained by The Post.

washington post logoWashington Post, Catholic U. dean suspended after comment about woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Susan Svrluga, Will Rainford, dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service, apologized after he made a Twitter post that suggested one of the Supreme Court nominee's accusers "was not the victim of sexual assault.”

“Swetnick is 55 y/o,” Rainford posted Wednesday on his @NCSSSDean Twitter account. “Kavanaugh is 52 y/o. Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys? If it happened when Kavanaugh was a senior, Swetnick was an adult drinking with&by her admission, having sex with underage boys. In another universe, he would be victim & she the perp!”

Teresa Crenshaw, a social worker who graduated from the master’s degree program at the school in 2017, said she was “really alarmed that he had the audacity to say those things because as social workers, we know we work one-on-one with survivors every day. . . . I’m appalled by what he has said.”

Papal Challenge

pope francis south korea 2014 w

Pope Francis is shown on a 2014 visit to South Korea (file photo via Wikimedia)

washington post logoWashington Post, With call for pope to resign, divisions within the Catholic Church explode into view, Chico Harlan, Aug. 28, 2018 (print edition). Some traditionalists blame homosexuality within the church for the sexual abuse crisis. Pope Francis has used more inclusive messages about gays at a time when the religion is losing its hold across the Western world.

Aug. 27

carlo maria vigano bo 2011

President Obama greets Vatican Ambassador to the United States Carlo Maria Vigano in 2011 (White House photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Vatican ambassador says Popes Francis, Benedict knew of sexual misconduct allegations against pope benedict XVI 2010 10 17 4McCarrick for years, Chico Harlan, Stefano Pitrelli and Michelle Boorstein, Aug. 27, 2018 (print edition).

A former Vatican ambassador to the United States has alleged in an 11-page letter that Pope Benedict XVI, 91, and (shown at right in a 2010 photo before his 2013 resignation) and Pope Francis — among other top Catholic Church officials — had been aware of sexual misconduct allegations against former D.C. archbishop theodore mccarrickCardinal Theodore McCar­rick, shown below at left, years before he resigned this summer.

The letter from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, 77, who was recalled from his D.C. post in 2016 amid allegations that he'd become embroiled in the conservative American fight against same-sex marriage, was first reported by the National Catholic Register and LifeSite News, two conservative Catholic sites.

The accusations sent a shock wave across the reeling Roman Catholic Church, but the letter offered no proof of its claims, and Viganò on Sunday told The Washington Post that he wouldn't comment further, beyond confirming that he was the letter's author.

Aug. 26

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Vatican ambassador says Popes Francis, Benedict knew of sexual misconduct allegations against McCarrick for years, Chico Harlan, Stefano Pitrelli and Michelle Boorstein, Aug. 26, 2018.  In an 11-page letter, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said that former D.C. archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been privately sanctioned under Pope Benedict XVI for his alleged sexual misconduct.

July 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick resigns after reports of sexual abuse, Julie Zauzmer, July 28, 2018. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington and longtime globe-trotting diplomat of the Catholic Church, resigned his position as a cardinal, the Vatican announced Saturday.

theodore mccarrickMcCarrick, 88 (shown at right), was found by the church in June to be credibly accused of sexually abusing a teenager nearly 50 years ago. Since then, additional reports of sexual abuse and harassment by the cardinal, over a span of decades, have been reported. The victims include one then-minor and three adults, who were young priests or seminarians when McCarrick allegedly abused them.

Pope Francis ordered McCarrick to remain in seclusion, and in prayer, until a church trial considers further sanctions against him. McCarrick is the highest ranked U.S. Catholic clergy member to ever be removed from ministry due to sexual abuse allegations.