'Frontline: Supreme Revenge'
(DVD / NR / 2019 / PBS)
Overview: From Brett Kavanaugh to Robert Bork, this film tells the essential political history of how a 30-year-old grievance transformed the Court and turned confirmations into vehemently partisan conflicts.
Offering both critical context on the state of America's judicial system and a gripping political narrative, Supreme Revenge is a must-watch look at the battle for control of America's highest court.
DVD Verdict: The bitter, partisan battle that played out during Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings reflected deep divisions in Washington that may seem unique to America's current political and social moment.
But as this FRONTLINE investigation reveals, the intense politicization on display during the Supreme Court confirmation process - and the transformation of the Court itself - has been a shift decades in the making.
In 'Supreme Revenge', FRONTLINE's acclaimed political team draws on dozens of interviews with key current and former U.S. senators - including Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) - White House and congressional staffers, insiders from multiple presidential administrations, legal experts, authors and journalists to investigate how America reached this moment.
So, for those not in the complete know, just who is Brett Kavanaugh? Well, Kavanaugh’s credentials include having sat on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit since 2006, once clerking for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and serving in both Bush administrations.
He graduated from Yale Law School and also worked for Ken Starr’s team on the special counsel investigation that eventually led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
His confirmation appeared dependent on the results of the FBI’s supplemental background investigation which, after much scrutiny and public indifference, was not the easy road less taken that he expected, that's for sure.
The first day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing began with Democrats calling for more time to go over thousands of pages of documents released the night before.
But the hearing proceeded and included introductions from two Republicans and one Democrat, as well as Kavanaugh’s opening remarks.
Day Two of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing also marked the start of questions from senators.
The second day was similar to the first and was consistently interrupted by protesters.
Kavanaugh’s public questioning concluded on Day Three of the hearing.
Notably, the Supreme Court nominee said he had "an open mind" on the topic of criminally investigating or indicting a sitting president, which some legal experts have pointed out could be relevant with the current administration and the ongoing probes into the 2016 election.
In the same place where Kavanaugh sat for three days, witnesses testified before the committee on the fourth day. Some of the witnesses included a Parkland shooting survivor as well as John Dean, the Watergate era White House Counsel.
The rest, as they say, is all formality now - inclusive of The New Yorker publishing an article detailing an accusation from one of Kavanaugh’s former classmates at Yale, Deborah Ramirez (Ramirez claimed that while at a college party, Kavanaugh exposed himself to her).
This in depth, and highly intriguing documentary from PBS tells the essential political history of how a 30-year-old grievance transformed the Court and turned confirmations into vehemently partisan conflicts - tracing how the failed nomination of President Ronald Reagan's Supreme Court pick Robert Bork sparked a desire for revenge from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that would ultimately help shape the court for decades to come.
Offering both critical context on the state of America's judicial system and a gripping political narrative, 'Supreme Revenge' is a must-watch look at the battle for control of America's highest court. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.