Introduction: Supreme Revenge (04:35)
“Frontline” examines the battle between Democrats and Republicans over Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Outmaneuvering Democrats and confirming conservative judges were Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s specialties.
The Rise of Robert Bork (04:36)
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork. Bork exemplified ultra-conservative legal thought and his appointment was expected to change the balance of power on the court. Sen. Ted Kennedy led the opposition.
Bork Under Fire (05:24)
Judiciary committee hearings were broadcast on national television. For five days, Bork was questioned on abortion, busing, privacy, and other controversial issues. He was rejected by a vote of 52 to 48, and McConnell vowed revenge.
Federalist Society Joins the Fight (03:09)
The right-wing group organization as a student group in 1981; Bork and Antonin Scalia were faculty advisers. It developed as a job network and pool of prospective judges, supported by powerful conservative donors.
Vacancy on the Court (10:39)
Justice Thurgood Marshall retired in 1991, presenting McConnell and the Federalist Society an opportunity to replace a liberal justice. They picked Judge Clarence Thomas. Sexual harassment allegations greatly complicated his confirmation hearings.
McConnell's Power Play (05:32)
McConnell rose to power inside the Senate. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia presented an opportunity for McConnell to block President Barack Obama’s nominee and exact revenge for the Bork nomination.
The List (03:50)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump compiled a list of judicial nominees chosen by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. McConnell kept Scalia’s seat open long enough for Trump to appoint Justice Neil Gorsuch. Then Justice Anthony Kennedy’s resignation presented another opportunity.
Battle Over Kavanaugh (08:01)
Trump nominated Kavanaugh. He refused to answer hypothetical questions during partisan confirmation hearings that were further complicated by sexual assault allegations.
Kavanaugh Fights Back (05:38)
Kavanaugh denied having sexual relations with his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. He launched a partisan attack on the Democrats, accusing them of orchestrating a cynical political hit.
Credits: Supreme Revenge (01:01)
Credits: Supreme Revenge
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