Cal Thomas: Uncivil discourse

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, September 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

Next up, Cal Thomas calls for an end to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation circus.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: The 100-year-old Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced last year it was closing, largely because of dwindling public interest.

It’s time for the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider closing or at least modifying its own circus: hearings for Supreme Court nominees. The hoopla surrounding the Brett Kavanaugh nomination has shown the hearings serve only the objectives of special interests and certain politicians, not the interests of the general public.

The Constitution is silent on congressional committees. They were established after the document’s ratification. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary (its official name) was not established until 1816. Its purpose was to serve as a forum for public discussion on social and constitutional issues and to discover the views on these issues from nominees to federal courts and other high offices within the judicial system.

As Senator Mike Lee noted in his opening statement at the Kavanaugh hearing—Supreme Court confirmation hearings did not occur until 1916. And yet somehow our Republic survived—and thrived.

In modern times these events have become a stage for political theater. As reported here on WORLD Radio, paid protestors constantly disrupted the Kavanaugh hearing. They wanted to have their names and pictures in the press, and their rude behavior guaranteed it. Defenders say they are exercising their First Amendment rights. But those rights should not deny others of their right to speak without being interrupted.

It’s worth noting that Republican and conservative activists didn’t shout and display signs during hearings for Justices Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan. And some GOP senators even voted to confirm them. Sotomayor won nine Republican votes, and Kagan won five.

But if the current way of doing things continues, we can expect all of these proceedings to become more and more chaotic.

To protect order and decorum during future hearings for Supreme Court nominees, the committee should ban members of the public from attending. In a technological age when people can watch live television on their smartphones, why is it necessary to have people filing in and out of the hearing room? If activists want to exercise their First Amendment rights, let them do so outside. That way, the rights of those inside will also be protected. Isn’t that fair to everyone?

Like the shuttering of Barnum and Bailey, it’s time to end this judicial circus. As with its animal counterpart, the Senate Judiciary Committee has much to clean up after the show.

It can start by conducting future hearings in an orderly and respectful way that honors everyone’s rights. That includes the right of senators and the public to hear from the nominee uninterrupted by people apparently never taught manners by their parents.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) From left, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, confer on the last day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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