Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) on Wednesday added to the long list of cringeworthy arguments Republicans have used to defend Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, comparing the GOP to Atticus Finch of the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
“There’s nothing empathetic about presuming that somebody is guilty without evidence,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor, referring to the Democrats attempts to further investigate the sexual assault allegations leveled against Judge Kavanaugh.
“Some commentators have called this our Atticus Finch moment,” Cornyn continued. “We all remember that Atticus Finch was a lawyer who did not believe that a mere accusation was synonymous with guilt. He represented an unpopular person who many people presumed was guilty of a heinous crime because of his race and his race alone. We could learn from Atticus Finch now.”
The comparison fell flat. The character of Atticus Finch, as readers might remember, was defending a Black man from a white woman who had accused him of a rape he didn’t commit, in the Jim Crow South. The GOP are trying to ensure a privileged white judge gets an even more privileged position on the Supreme Court.
Some of us remember that Atticus Finch was not a real person and that a trial isn't the same thing as a hearing and that the threat of lynching isn't the same thing as the prospect of people deciding you don't get one of the most powerful jobs in the country. https://t.co/nCMZYVBVSf
— Joshua D. Rothman (@rothmanistan) October 4, 2018
Cornyn’s statement is just the latest bombastic rhetoric employed by Republicans in their effort to get Kavanaugh confirmed. On Thursday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the allegations made against Kavanaugh were “uncorroborated mud” and that blocking his nomination would be a “fundamentally un-American precedent.” (McConnell, as a reminder, refused to appoint Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, to the Supreme Court in 2016 because it was an “election year,” a move he now describes as one of the most important political decisions he’s ever made.)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), meanwhile, has accused Democrats of spurring an “unethical sham” and said that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) should apologize for the “smear campaign” launched against Kavanaugh. During the confirmation hearing Kavanaugh had asked Klobuchar, whose father is an alcoholic, whether she’d ever blacked out from drinking.
Earlier on Thursday the White House announced that the FBI had completed its supplementary probe into the allegations against Kavanaugh, with just nine comprehensive interviews — out of the dozens of witnesses who had offered to talk to agents — conducted over a span of a few days. Unsurprisingly, the FBI’s report — which Democrats have described as “incomplete” — revealed that there was “no hint of misconduct” by Kavanaugh.
Senate Republicans are now hoping to move swiftly to confirm him.