Alex Kozinski is a pig.
I know, two questions immediately come to mind:
“Who the hell is Alex Kozinski?”
“Why the hell should I care?”
Until last December, Alex Kozinski was a Judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, formerly the Chief Judge. He had been on the 9th Circuit since his appointment by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. He might have eventually been a nominee for the Supreme Court. After all, Republican Presidents from Nixon to Reagan to George W. Bush (and now Trump) have a long history of seeking to appoint loyal political soldiers (who may have acted criminally on behalf of their bosses) to the Supreme Court as a reward for services rendered.
Robert Bork stepped in as Acting Attorney General to fire Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor in the Watergate investigation. While Nixon did not last long enough in office to nominate him for the Supreme Court, Reagan unsuccessfully nominated him in 1987.
Harriet Miers was blamed as the hatchet-woman on the mass firings of U.S. Attorneys under George W. Bush and then was held in contempt by the House of Representatives for refusing a subpoena to testify before Congress about the firings. Bush unsuccessfully nominated Miers for the Supreme Court in 2005.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez supported (or led) the effort to fire the U.S. Attorneys. He also was behind the federal government’s warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizen and drafted the legal authorization for what Vice President Dick Cheney and other called “enhanced interrogation” but the rest of the world called “torture.” Bush nominated Miers, then Chief Justice Roberts, then Samuel Alito when Miers dropped out. But Gonzalez was not passed-over for his lack of criminal activity on behalf of (or lack of loyalty to) the Bush administration. He was passed over because a single ruling he made while on the Texas Supreme Court led evangelical Republicans to fear he might support abortion rights.
You can be a criminal. You can be a sexual abuser. You can commit treason or be held in contempt of Congress. But do not cast a single ambiguous vote where abortion rights are concerned at any point in your career or evangelicals will make sure your career in Washington is limited.
Now, President Trump looks to seat Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, a jurist who believes the President of the United States should be effectively “untouchable” while in office regardless of legal offense. Convenient, as it may soon come before the Supreme Court to determine if President Trump can be charged with crimes and how the process of potentially invalidating his illegitimate presidency might unfold.
But before we get to Kavanaugh, let’s get back to Alex Kozinski.
Kozinski worked in the Office of the Special House Counsel under Ronald Reagan. James Watt was Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior. Watt was so in-bed with mining interests that he makes Trump’s ERA Chief Scott Pruitt look like an environmentalist by comparison. Watt was once quoted, when asked for take on land management, “We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber.” When a whistleblower at the Department of Interior sought to stop Watt’s devastation, Kozinski stepped in and personally counseled Watt’s staff on how to carefully word James Spadaro’s termination letter so it would hold-up to legal challenges when Spadaro claimed whistleblower status.
It is believed the efforts to sack Spadaro, which were uncovered during Kozinski’s nomination hearings for the 9th Circuit, ended the eventual plan to elevation Kozinskito the Supreme Court.
In 2008, The Los Angeles Times broke a story claiming that Judge Kozinski “maintained a publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos.” Kozinski’s defense was that only a “small fraction” of the images were offensive, and that the site was hosted on server in his own home with access only by invitation. An ethics investigation the following year applied no penalty, just chastised Kozinski for not administering his web server more carefully.
Hmm…a federal judge leading one of the most powerful Courts in the nation has his own porn website on a home-brew server and gets only a warning to be more careful? Good thing he did not house private emails on that server.
Kozinski resigned his seat on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last December. At the time, Kozinski had been accused by more than 15 women (dating back to the mid 1980’s) of acts of sexual misconduct ranging from the inappropriate to the obscene to the potentially criminal. But not all his inappropriate behavior was sexual. He was accused of being an abuser in other ways.
At his 1985 confirmation hearing, a group of his former employee’s released a statement which said Kozinski was,
“harsh, cruel, demeaning, sadistic, disingenuous and without compassion,” and that his actions as a boss “portray[ed] an unusual degree of hostility . . . and at times an almost complete disregard for the consequences of the actions upon individuals.”
Sounds like the sort of guy Republicans nominated for President in 2016?
When the sexual accusations started flying in earnest last December, possibly spurred by the #MeToo movement making women feel more comfortable going public with accusations against powerful men, Kozinski issued a statement:
“I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.”
Note the passive voice. Not “that I have offended” but “have been offended.” Not “I’m sorry” or “I regret” but “regrettable.” So not an admission of culpability, and not an apology. Not “I am sorry I sexually assaulted you” but “Too bad you got raped.”
He stated during his resignation that women “must have misunderstood his broad sense of humor and candid way of speaking.” Again, with the victim blaming and shirking responsibility for one’s actions. And that part about the female victims not understanding a joke or the way he speaks his mind? I know I said it before, but does that deflection remind you of a 2016 Republican Presidential nominee similarly accused of decades of sexual assaults?
One of Kozinski’s former law clerks, Heidi Bond, described how Kozinski controlled every aspect of life for his clerks. She claims he once told her, upon disapproving of a book she was reading,
“I control what you read, what you write, when you eat. You don’t sleep if I say so. You don’t shit unless I say so. Do you understand?”
Bond also described Kozinski’s near-constant tirades and the behavior that followed them:
He would go up to me.
“Heidi, honey,” he would ask. “Do you still love me?”
There was only one answer. To say “no” would be to invite the tempest a second time.
“Yes, Judge,” I would say. “Of course, I still love you.”
He’d kiss my cheek, and I would kiss his.
Classic abuser behavior.
His resignation allowed him to keep his full pension and benefits package.
Now, you know why Alex Kozinski is a pig.
Here’s why you should care.
In 1990, a young Yale Law graduate named Brett Cavanaugh took a position clerking for Judge Walter Stapleton, a Delaware federal appeals court judge. At the completion of his clerkship, Kavanaugh took the almost unheard-of step of applying for a second clerkship with another judge. Clerking was brutal and thankless work. During his confirmation hearing to the United States Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh talked about his time serving that second clerkship:
“When we started as law clerks, he told us we work for the people and we should consider ourselves on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And I can say from personal experience that Judge Kozinski lived up to that promise.”
Let’s see if we have this straight. Kavanaugh graduates from Yale Law. He does a grueling clerkship under Judge Stapleton during which he is instrumental in the crafting of Stapleton’s ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a ruling which changed the landscape of women’s reproductive rights in America.
One of Kavanaugh’s friends described Brett’s relationship with Kozinksi this way, “He thought Brett was just fantastic.” Other friends noted that the time serving with Kozinski “marked Judge Kavanaugh’s rise to legal stardom and honed his conservatism.”
It seems one year under Kozinski’s tutelage taught Kavanaugh all he needed to know?
When the scandal broke last year surrounding Kozinski’s alleged decades of sexual abuses, a spokeswoman for Kavanaugh gave what could be deemed the old “college try” in honor of Joe Paterno and Jim Jordan saying,
“he never heard any sexual harassment allegations against Judge Kozinski until they surfaced publicly last year.”
Kavanaugh could have named his position after his time with Judge Stapleton, and no doubt had offers flying at him from all directions. He chose to do a second clerkship under one of the most demanding judges? Instead of reaping a huge windfall for all his hard work?
Here’s the thing:
Plenty of people are dismissing the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh for a single reason: they occurred more than 30 years ago. And there is no proof Brett Kavanaugh witnessed firsthand the disgusting sexual behavior Judge Kozinski was accused of. Of course, the accusations from the women against Judge Kozinski imply that the behavior seemingly existed every second of the workday and often outside of work as well. It defies logic that Kavanaugh could have spent a year working that closely with Kozinski and never saw a single incident of inappropriate sexual behavior. Kavanagh never saw the sort of wildly inappropriate behavior Heidi Bond described as nearly constant events?
Is he deaf and blind or just a liar?
But the accusation against Kavanaugh personally were from the 1980’s. And Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski in the early 1990’s. It is 2018. Aren’t these ancient history and too far in the past to maker Kavanaugh ineligible for the Supreme Court?
Sure, make that argument if you like.
But Kavanaugh was, prior to his nomination to the Supreme Court, a Judge on arguably the most important Court in America besides the Supreme Court.
And guess who Kavanaugh tabbed for a clerkship this year, one of the most prized clerkships in Washington?
Clayton Kozinski, the son of Alex Kozinski.
The swamp just keeps getting swampier and the white, Ivy League boys club keeps sticking together, covering each other’s backs, and making sure like-minded white, Ivy League boys get the advantages they need to get and stay ahead of the rules.
There is no way Kavanaugh should be confirmed to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court until we have answers. Honest ones. Starting now.