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'Judge Kavanaugh Was Not Responsible for the Parkland School Shooting'

Parents of school shooting victims lash out over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but the more troubling responses are from U.S. senators.

The father of a victim in the Parkland school shooting unexpectedly made news at the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Brett Kavanaugh yesterday.

The reasons Kavanaugh didn't shake hands aren't immediately clear, but reading the worst possible motive into it is tendentious to say the least. Guttenberg's tweet predictably sparked angry responses from critics of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, gun rights, and Kavanaugh. Perhaps most notably, it called forth this response from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who has already made clear she intends to vote no on the nominee and who interrupted the opening of the hearings to call for a postponement.

Guttenberg's tweet also called out this response from another parent of a Parkland victim:

Erin Scott/Polaris/NewscomErin Scott/Polaris/NewscomI agree with Pollack both that Kavanaugh is in no way responsible for the Parkland shooting and that the mayhem there is best understood as a systematic breakdown among the authorities. (Robert Runcie is the school superintendent of Parkland.) It wasn't just on-the-scene law enforcement and school bureaucrats who failed there either; mental health and child protective services officials also had interactions with Cruz that should have served as warnings. Pollack now heads Americans for Children's Lives and School Safety, a group committed to promoting school safety without increasing gun control restrictions. It's worth noting that even as he (rightly, in my view) says we shouldn't politicize school shootings, it's far from clear what his qualifications are to urge that Kavanaugh be confirmed.

Legal blogger and Reason contributor Ken "Popehat" White is in a better position to make that sort of call. Here's what he wrote after Guttenberg's tweet made the rounds:

It's quite possible that Supreme Court nomination hearings, at least since Robert Bork's in the 1980s, bring out the absolute worst in legislators and citizens alike. Despite the intense competition to become a member of the Court, the qualifications for the job are easily met by most candidates who actually get to sit in front of the Senate for confirmation. (Of course, no one is allowed to get that far if he or she is unlikely to win a majority vote.) But the symbolic values that get projected onto prospective justices often have little to do with the individual and more to do with the particular moment the nomination happens to arrive. Pity poor Merrick Garland, who would have been terrible from a libertarian perspective, but clearly got rooked out of a hearing by the GOP majority because his chance came too late in Barack Obama's presidency. Pity libertarian Douglas Ginsburg, too, who was nominated after Bork but forced to withdraw his nomination because he admitted to smoking weed (this was 1987, folks).

According to most of the scholars Reason has talked with, Kavanaugh is, on balance, pretty good if you believe in limited government. Which isn't to say that even someone as rotten as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has a long track record of supporting surveillance, military interventions, and all manners of incursions into basic economic and civil liberties, isn't right when she tweets:

We won't get all of those records, of course, and in many ways I'm more interested in Feinstein's own papers on these topics. The Senate and House, after all, are far more consequential (or should be) in making law and setting policy that the Supreme Court, which is best understood as a validator of social and political change rather than its initiator.

Here's a recent discussion I had with Ken White about Kavanaugh and a ton of other legal issues. Watch below, listen via SoundCloud, or subscribe to the Reason Podcast at iTunes.

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  • SIV||

    Nick and Ken White seem suddenly ashamed of their "team".

  • perlchpr||

    Ken asked good questions, but should know better that the answer is "That's different, because our cause is righteous."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The reasons Kavanaugh didn't shake hands aren't immediately clear...

    If even true.

  • chipper me timbers||

    ^This. Hard to believe anything much less some random tweet but someone with an agenda.

  • Derp-o-Matic 6000||

    As though he even recognized the name. Maybe he did not completely believable that he didn't

  • perlchpr||

    In Kavanaugh's shoes, at the end of that day, I can certainly imagine why he might have been loathe to shake the hands of internet randos.

  • damikesc||

    People kept disrupting proceedings. Cannot figure out why he might wish to not be grabbed by random dudes.

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    It could have easily been something as innocuous as not wanting to be touch by a jew.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Funny how Feinstein tweet mentions warrantless spying as if she opposed to it.

  • Derp-o-Matic 6000||

    I like how she includes Bush v Gore as a product of the Bush presidency. What was that case about again?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...mental health and child protective services officials also had interactions with Cruz that should have served as warnings.

    This is dangerous thinking as well. We run the risk of health workers feeling the need to overreact to every aberrant behavior in those in their care, bringing armed state agents down on the mentally ill, and to drive those who might benefit from it away from seeking help.

    There's a reason our institutions are held in low esteem these days. Even when working as planned they are disasters to individual liberty waiting to happen.

  • Just Say'n||

    You know who else first went after the mentally ill? The answer may surprise you

  • Earth Skeptic||

    The first cave man with a nut job roommate?

  • Just Say'n||

    The answer is Oliver Wendell Holmes in Buck v. Bell. Which I suppose is a kind of Hitler

  • John||

    Yes it is. The better question to ask is where were Cruz's parents and family. The kid clearly had tremendous issues. It should not have been on the school to get him help. His parents should have gotten him help and ensured he didn't hurt anyone.

  • Ron||

    I think Cruz's parents were dead and he was staying at a friends house and they did not have enough history to know his issues.

  • John||

    It is really tragic. The kid was sick and basically thrown aside and left on his own. You can't defend or excuse what he did. But, you have to feel sorry for him. I do not think he is evil. I think he is legitimately mentally ill and was given no help or support. The whole thing is just heartbreaking. But instead of talking about the real issues, let's blame guns and call our political opponents' murders.

  • Tionico||

    Oh they knew his issues, alright... including the FACT that the punk had assaulted and beaten his own Mother so badly she had to be hospitalised for some time to get put back together then recover. She died not long after that. That "smooth move" on the punk's part SHOULD have led to two felony level charges... assault and battery (hospitalisation being required indicates the serious physical injury necesssary to raise the assault to felony level) and felony level Domestic Violence. TWO crimes which by law MUST disqualify anyone from possession of guns. This was known by his foster parents... and he'd threatened at least one of them as well, which probably should have been charged as at least misdemeanour domestic violence, yet one more "disqualifying event" in the rat's history.

  • Tionico||

    It should not have been on the school to get him help

    Not so. ONE of his several actions that SHOULD have disqualified him from possession of firearms was the FACT that he assaulted another boy in his school, and hurt him so badly he required medical care. Felony level assault. They kicked him out of school for that one.

    He had also been caught ON CAMPUS with a knife of such size it was considered a "deadly weapon" under Florida law, and to possess a deadly weapon in a federally declared gun free school zone is yet a fourth felony level act that SHOULD have been charged at the federal level and SHOULD have disqualified him from possession of firearms.

    These two incidents happened ON CAMPUS, and the school admin FAILED to take appropriate action. They are also accessories to his murders by enabling him, by their omissions, to purchase his weapons.

  • Tionico||

    THREE felony level crimes of violence against other persons, and one of possession of a deadly weapon ON CAMPUS are not "health workers feeling the need to overreast at every aberrant behaviour". No, ignoring such activity, well known to them, preferring to rig the statistics and reduce the ARREST rate while doing nothing to reduce the CRIME rate, thus qualifying for a $54Mn prize from government... no, that does not fit the mould you proffer. Incompetence of the worst order, driven by poitical motives to become the hero by gaining that price on THEIR watch is far worse than the model you posit.

  • Brian||

    I tried to shake Kamala Harris' hand at a campaign event. I introduced myself as a taxpayer she's trying to raise taxes on.

    She acted like she didn't even see me.

    If Kamala Harris won't even stop ignoring me, how can we believe she wouldn't ignore taxpayers in Congress

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm?

  • DrZ||

    I am from California and I would like to apologize here for Kamala Harris.

    If it makes any difference I did not vote for her, but for some reason she got in anyway.

  • John I||

    Is there some reason I should even believe that Kavanaugh refused to shake the guy's hand?

  • John||

    Even if he did, you really can't blame him. How was he supposed to know who the guy was? Imagine being Kavanaugh and going to your confirmation hearing and being confronted with a bunch of crazies who are there to disrupt the hearing. Would you want to shake hands or get friendly with any of them? I wouldn't.

  • Ron||

    and there is always the last guy in line who doesn't get to shake hands because the person in question has to move on at some point. it happens every time at ever event no matter who they are wether it be a politicion or an actor etc.

  • DiegoF||

    I never have any urge to approach these people, even when it's allowed and expected. I don't fuss over celebrities--I think this is essentially a point of New York pride that everyone has over here. As for politicians, I have met and even interacted with quite a few; and they are some of the most mundane and unimpressive people I have ever interacted with. I certainly do not think I admire any nearly enough to be starstruck if I met even my very favorite. My only real "awe" of them is for their power, which makes my instinct to steer clear of them like I do the cops and anyone else who might have the ability and inclination to make my life miserable just for the hell of it (or because they felt insufficiently respected or whatever, which happens a shitload with both groups).

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Shitlib gaslighting sure is becoming all the rage--"Hey, a guy who belongs to a different party and has never met me won't shake my hand when I charge up to him following a hearing marked by the Orwellian antics of my fellow lunatic travelers. Must mean he has a guilty conscience about gun violence!"

    Also, LOL at "I slept my way into politics" Kamala Harris acting as if she possesses any integrity and isn't, in fact, a middle-tier ho-bag.

  • DiegoF||

    Who did Kamala fuck? Was it Nikki Haley?

  • Just Say'n||

    Oh man, that'd be so hot

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    She was Willie Brown's sidepiece.

  • DiegoF||

    Ewwww-www! Can't we just go with mine?

  • Dillinger||

    toss Mrs. Rubio on that pile.

  • DiegoF||

    Doesn't she have her hands full with Mrs. Kucinich enough as it is?

  • Dillinger||

    i would, so likely yes.

  • damikesc||

    Willie Brown actually. She was his side piece.

    You dont think she advanced on her qualifications, did you?

  • Derp-o-Matic 6000||

    She is a dumb, loud, token minority statist. Sounds like a perfectly qualified 2018 Dem to me

  • ||

    "The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp."

    Yup, they don't even do this shit ironically.

  • Naaman Brown||

    The Two Minute Hate is so 1984. This 2018. How long does it take to read 140 characters or less?

  • ||

    LOL. Flash forward to 2018: a mandatory Three Tweets Hate?

  • ||

    Obviously, Kavanaugh is trying to hide the fact that he has six fingers.

  • Just Say'n||

    Why have people weaponized the word "weaponized" in grammatically incorrect and nonsensical ways?

  • DiegoF||

    They are constantly incentivized to do so.

  • Just Say'n||

    Quit weaponizing their incentives

  • chipper me timbers||

    So, what are the chances this handshake thing really happened?

    I'm giving it 10%

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I saw video of it, but I agree with John: how is Kavanaugh supposed to know who the guy was? And he was in a room full of mouth-foaming crazies. I'd be careful who's hand I shook, too.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Ack. Whose.

  • ||

    The part that gets me is people introducing themselves on behalf of someone else in the specific setting. If you introduce yourself as Mr. Guttenberg's Dad, Mr. Guttenberg either needs to be Steve or Johannes or you're not getting my time. If it were 6 mos. after the event or you were at a cocktail party and someone asked what your story was, I understand explaining yourself that way, but introducing yourself as your dead son's dad at a SCOTUS confirmation hearing 6 yrs. later is pretty demented. Barely one step away from being a fictional character bad.

  • perlchpr||

    Erm.

    Parkland was 6 months ago. 6 and a half, maybe.

    Even so, the only "victim" whose name I remember is "Media" Hogg. Though the media have made quite sure I'll never be able to forget the shooter's name.

  • ||

    Parkland was 6 months ago. 6 and a half, maybe.

    I thought I recalled one of the Dad's from Sandy Hook was pulling political stunts like this and confused them. In any event, I can conceptualize the bad place it must send you but, still, carrying it around everywhere like that, with it almost on your sleeve comes across as borderline vendetta-esque.

  • perlchpr||

    Sure. It wasn't my intent to excuse the guy. And I think you're right about Sandy Hook Dad too.

  • ||

    Also, and this is probably a bit semantic/colloquial, Dad's are initially or minimally involved in parenting, the parent of a teenager/high schooler are their father and/or mother.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Not to bandy words, but in the juvenile field we usually distinguish between "fathers" who donated the sperm, and "dads" who actually help raise the child. Much the same way we distinguish between "mothers" and "moms".

  • TxJack 112||

    If you only look at the picture released, it does appear the Kavanaugh is ignoring Guttenberg. However, if you watch the vide of the entire event you find that Guttenberg walked up to Kanavuagh, touched his elbow and extended his hand as Kavanaugh was standing an buttoning his jacket. Almost immediately, Kavanaugh's security steps between them and hurries Kavanaugh away. The fact Democrats attempted to make something out of the incident demonstrates it is bogus, clearly was staged and intended to portray the nominee as heartless and evil. In addition, the tweet by Feinstein is hilarious. Does she intend to vote in support of Kavanaugh if all of these documents show he has not made any "dangerous decisions"? No, because she has already said she will not support his and refused to meet with him. Everything that happened yesterday was staged and anyone with a brain knows it and takes it for what it was, political theater.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    In addition to that, nobody with any sense thinks the Left wouldn't have made some big stink if he HAD shaken the guy's hand. I'm sure they had some meme all lined up and ready to roll.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    As with the protest signs proclaiming "I oppose ___________ for the Supreme Court."

  • Derp-o-Matic 6000||

    Or the Women's March press release opposing the nomination of XX.

  • Dillinger||

    pics or it didn't happen?

  • Mickey Rat||

    Given how Guttenberg describes how he introduced himself, should Kavanaugh even be expected to know who he is, or what significance his daughter's name has?

    This is just trashy, perhaps self absorbed behavior to make anything of.

  • ||

    Given how Guttenberg describes how he introduced himself, should Kavanaugh even be expected to know who he is, or what significance his daughter's name has?

    Fred Guttenberg? From the Police Academy movies?

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    That actor's first name is Steve, not Fred.

  • ||

    That actor's first name is Steve, not Fred.

    If you knew who Steve Guttenberg was... sigh.

  • IceTrey||

    The only person responsible for Parkland was Nicolas Cruz.

  • Moridin||

    When someone uses the name Guttenberg the first thing that comes to mind is the printing press, not dead school children.

  • Dillinger||

    Short Circuit.

  • What's that smell?||

    As gut-wrenching it is to watch party hack young buck senators; Booker and Harris, watching the old guard today; Leaghy and Grassley (who bookended Feinstein), I quite nearly vomited. I brought to mind two old farts in the nursing home arguing over a bowl of split pea soup being too hot, too cold, or just right. No wonder the public outside the ruling class despises politicians .

  • Sevo||

    "...I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence."

    Naah. He didn't want to support a dumbass trying to wave a bloody shirt.

  • Derp-o-Matic 6000||

    All of the presumes Kavanaugh even knew who the fuck the guy was, a fact not established by the record.

  • Ecoli||

    Confirm K and be done with it. Enough of the fake news.

  • Tony||

    I think the cutest part is when Republicans praise Kavanaugh for Hamdan as if they didn't all spend the 2000s setting fire to the Bill of Rights.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    which parts?

  • Tony||

    That one who looks like a coach at the world's douchiest prep school... Cornyn.

  • MarkLastname||

    It's cute when you pretend you care about the Bill of Rights.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    So the thesis of Fred Guttenberg's argument is what?

    That if Nikolas Cruz is convicted, let alone sentenced to death, the Supreme Court should not, under any circumstances, disturb that judgment?

    Would it be ethical for the Supreme Court to overturn a death sentence against Nikolas Cruz?

    would it be ethical for the Supreme Court to overturn a murder conviction against Nikolas Cruz?

  • Rebel Scum||

    We need ALL of Brett Kavanaugh's documents to fully review his record.

    Make sure you check his senior thesis while you're at it.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Same way we needed all of Obama's records to fully review his qualifications to serve as President. Never got that, either.

  • Zeb||

    If Kavanaugh won't even give him a handshake, how can we believe he would give gun violence victims a fair shake in court?

    What the actual fuck is that supposed to mean? It's really a weird thing to say. Does she think that, as a judge, he wouldn't conduct fair trials of murderers who use guns?

    And victims of crimes don't get any kind of shake in court. What does that even mean? It's the state against the defendant. The only person the court is obliged to ensure gets a fair shake is the defendant.

    What a stupid cunt.

  • Tionico||

    Sorry but the mad Dad DID decide (proactively or by default) to send his child to THAT school, and to do nothing as the Board and Admin of that school and district persued politial agendae that enabled the killer to succeed in his self-assigned mission. HAD the local school admin and law enforcement DONE THEIR JOBS that rotten kid would have been in jail for any or all of at least three felony level actions of his, but the Board decided it was better to redice their ARREST rate rather than the CRIME rate, thus obtaining a $54Mn prize from FedGov for tweaking the numbers by refusing to prosecute any of the serious felony level crimes this shooter had perpetrated in the year or two prior to his shoot-em-up.
    He's looking for a fall-guy to quench his sorrow over the loss of his child. After a good long look in the mirror, he needs to look at the Board chief, sheriff, school admin and staff, and the medical providers that all failed. Oh, almost forgot.. FBI were involved, as well.

  • librich||

    The late Chalmers Johnson called the Supreme Court justices "worthless flunkies." There have been dozens of suits filed to halt the executive branch from going to war without a declaration from Congress, but the Court has refused to hear any of them--despite the fact that each took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Given this kind of behavior, does it really matter who joins the Court?

  • Lewis Goudy||

    "the qualifications for the job are easily met by most candidates"

    All, necessarily, as there are none.

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