Chapter 06

Equal Justice Under Law

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SUMMARY: The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is dead. Now, with control of the Court hanging in the balance for the first time in years, the race is on to fill this critical vacancy. Who will the President nominate? Will a closely divided Senate approve his choice or will partisan politics derail the nomination? Only one thing is certain. There will be winners and losers and the balance of power may shift in the country depending upon the outcome. In the process, careers will be affected, reputations made and lost, and friendships tested. But which side will ultimately prevail is far from clear. Please note that italics are typically used within the story to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself.

WARNING: This story is a work of adult fiction and intended for mature audiences only. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Unless otherwise indicated by context, all of the characters in this story are fictional, not depictions of real people. Please note that the story may describe, depict or otherwise include graphic portrayals of relationships between men and/or adolescent boys that are homosexual in nature. If you do not like or approve of such discussions or it is illegal for you to read such material, consider yourself warned. If you continue to read this story, you are asserting that you are fully capable of understanding and legally consenting to reading a work of adult fiction.

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NOTES: Please check these notes every week. If there’s something I want to alert you to as I post each chapter, this is where I will I do so.

JUSTICE

Chapter 6

Monday turned out to be a relatively quiet day in Washington given how eventful the weekend had been. On Saturday media attention had focused on the funeral of Chief Justice Saviano, including providing live television coverage of the Mass held to honor the man.

Everyone agreed that the Chief Justice’s son, the Reverend John Saviano, had delivered a moving and at times humorous eulogy for his father; although some noted the absence of Cardinal Donald Wells from the funeral and wondered why.

On Sunday the country was surprised by the publication of a conservative call to conscience in the New York Times and Washington Post, the opening shot in what everyone recognized would be a prolonged struggle to fill the empty ninth seat on the Supreme Court.

On Sunday as well the talk turned angry on the morning news shows like Meet The Press and Face The Nation as conservative and liberal pundits took shots at one another about the appropriateness of publishing such a manifesto so soon after the death of the Chief Justice; and about whom the President should nominate to fill the vacancy, of course.

Not surprisingly, the media celebrities who moderated the shows did their best to stoke the angry talk in a quest to boost ratings that had been sinking for years. If Washington had decided to take a breather on Monday, however, things were back to normal by Tuesday morning.

****

At the White House, Wayne Taylor was nervous as he ushered Senate Minority Leader Morgan McBride and Senator Lloyd Gilmore, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, into the Oval Office to meet the President.

Ten minutes earlier he had made the same walk from the White House driveway with Senate Majority Leader Jack Durning and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Bill Cahill.

Once everyone was seated, Taylor had Luke Daniels invite the White House photographer in to take a few photos that, by mutual consent, would later be distributed to the media. When all these preliminaries were finished, President Long took the lead in getting the meeting underway.

“Thank you very much for coming today, gentlemen,” he said, smiling and nodding at each of the powerful Senators in turn. “I was telling Wayne before you arrived we don’t do this nearly often enough. I apologize for that, but all of us are busy, of course, and finding opportunities to get together is usually a challenge for one reason or another.”

“In any event, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to talk to me. I’ll come straight to the point. I invited you here this morning because I’d like to get your views on how we should proceed in the wake of Chief Justice Saviano’s death; and if you think it appropriate, I’d also be interested in finding out who you recommend to fill the vacancy his death created.”

Plucking a card from his lap, the President continued.

“As you know, Article II, Section II, of the Constitution states, and I quote: The President . . . shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law . . . .

“Now my lawyers tell me I’m under no obligation to consult with anyone before nominating someone to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. But it would be foolish not to consult with the leadership of the Senate about such an important matter; more than foolish actually since I know I would benefit greatly from having your views.”

“None of us are children, gentlemen. We know these nominations have become quite contentious over the years so I think it behooves us, to the extent possible, to seek out the widest range of potential nominees for a position like this; and who better to help in that task than those the Senate has entrusted to lead them.”

“Why do you think that is, Mr. President?” Morgan McBride suddenly interrupted.

“Excuse me?” President Long responded, caught by surprise. “Why do I think what is, Morgan?”

“Why do you think Supreme Court nominations have become so contentious over the last several decades?”

“Uh, well, I’m not entirely sure,” the President replied, cautiously, “but I’d welcome your thoughts on that if you think it would help.”

“I do,” McBride said. “This all began back in 1987 when your party, the Democrat party, warned President Reagan there would be hell to pay if he nominated a principled conservative like Robert Bork to fill the vacancy created when Justice Lewis Powell retired.”

“Fortunately, President Reagan was a man of principle and refused to be bullied by Ted Kennedy and his ilk. He nominated Bork in spite of the warning and then the Democrat majority in the Senate voted the man down; a man, I might add, who was eminently well qualified for the position.”

“That’s where all the problems began, Mr. President. And so here we are again today with another vacancy to be filled and the prospect of still another fight on our hands. Before we begin talking about actual nominees, perhaps you could tell me exactly what you propose to do to put an end to all the fighting your party started?”

“I see,” the President responded, taking a deep breath and sitting back in his chair. “Well, you know, 1987 was a long time ago, Morgan. I’m not sure any of us in this room was even in office when the Bork nomination was considered. I know I wasn’t. And we also know the rights and wrongs can’t be attributed to one party alone.”

“It seems to me your party, Morgan, the Republican Party, has tossed a few logs on the fire over the years. It was your party that refused to hold hearings when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the Court back in 2016, for example; refused the man even the courtesy of an up or down vote as the Constitution intended.”

“But there was a good reason for that, Mr. President,” McBride retorted. “It was an election year and it was important to give the American people a say in filling such a critical vacancy.”

“And more Americans voted for Clinton than Trump,” the President countered.

“Oh, please, Mr. President, Trump won the Electoral College and that’s all that matters.”

“True enough, Morgan,” the President responded. “But I can’t seem to recall the Constitution saying the President could only nominate Supreme Court justices for the first three years of his term. Garland was treated badly and then Trump was elected and your party stole that Supreme Court seat.”

“That’s your interpretation, Mr. President,” Senator McBride fired back. “Like my predecessor in this job once said, winners make policy and losers go home. Gorsuch was qualified and we did what we had to do to get him on the Court.”

“You did indeed, Morgan, and every Supreme Court nomination since then has essentially been decided on party line votes. To be sure, a few Senators break rank every time, but the process has become a lot more partisan; and the Court has as well I might add.”

“And it all goes back to 1987,” Senator McBride retorted.

Frustrated, the President tried to get the meeting back on topic.

“Look, I’m not here to debate the rights and wrongs with you, Morgan. What I’m interested in figuring out is whether there’s any way we can avoid another slugfest over a Supreme Court vacancy.”

“Oh, please, Mr. President, let’s stop this charade,” Senator McBride replied. “All of us know why you invited us down here today. This is all public relations spin, not substance. What you’re really trying to do is to fool the American people into believing you’re honestly seeking our opinion on who should be nominated.”

“It’s a lie, Mr. President. Both of us know that, just like both of us know you’ve already decided who you plan to nominate to fill the vacancy.”

Harrison Long didn’t much like being lectured to by Morgan McBride, let alone being called a liar. He fidgeted in his seat, which cause Wayne Taylor to wonder whether the President was about to explode.

Knowing that wouldn’t be helpful, Taylor considered saying something that would lighten the mood in the room. In the end, stumped for anything to say, he decided to hold his tongue.

“And who might that be?” the President responded, calmly. “Who do I plan to nominate, Senator McBride?”

“Judge Carroll,” McBride replied. “That’s who you plan to nominate and I can tell you right now you’ll have a hell of a fight on your hands if you do. My members hate Vaughn Carroll with a passion. There’s no way in hell any of them will vote for the man if you send his nomination up to the Senate.”

“Well, then, give me an alternative you could support, Morgan,” the President said. “That’s why I invited you down here after all; to see whether there’s someone all of us could agree on.”

“That’s not my job, Mr. President,” McBride replied, dismissively. “As you pointed out, the Constitution assigns the task of nominating someone to fill a Supreme Court vacancy to you exclusively. As you should know, it also assigns the task of approving or rejecting your nominee exclusively to the Senate.”

“I understand that, Morgan,” the President said. “But I also think the public interest would be better served if we tried to find some way to bridge the divide and come up with someone people could agree on.”

“Vaughn Carroll is eminently qualified to fill the vacancy, but I understand the man is controversial with many of your members. Is there someone else who would rankle them less; perhaps someone like Judge Franklin Saiers?”

“Oh, please, Mr. President, be serious,” Senator McBride scoffed, dismissing the suggestion with a wave of his hand.

“Franklin Saiers? The man heads the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Living in San Francisco like they do, is it any surprise my Republican colleagues call it the nutty ninth? There’s no way in hell my members could ever support Franklin Saiers.”

“Well then, again, all I can ask is who you would recommend,” President Long countered. “Give me a name, some name, you think I could plausibly nominate; not some conservative ideologue you would undoubtedly prefer, but a practical suggestion. One I might be able to live with.”

“You want a name, Mr. President? I could give you a name if you wanted, but I don’t think you would take me seriously.”

“Try me, Morgan,” the President responded.

“Okay, then, what about Bill Cahill here,” McBride suggested, pointing to his Senate colleague. “The man is a Democrat, but eminently well qualified and I’m sure his nomination would be well received by the Senate.”

A hush fell over the Oval Office momentarily as those present tried to come to grips with the bombshell Morgan McBride had just dropped.

“Oh, now, be serious, Morgan,” Bill Cahill interjected. “I don’t suppose suggesting me has anything to do with the fact that I’m seventy-five years old and won’t be around much longer even if I was nominated and confirmed.”

“Not at all,” McBride replied, sensing he had put the Democrats on the defensive with his suggestion. “It has nothing to do with how old you are.”

“And I suppose it has nothing to do with the fact that Pennsylvania has a GOP Governor who would appoint a Republican to take Bill’s place in the Senate if we did as you suggested?” Senator Durning chimed in.”

“It has nothing to do with that either,” McBride replied.

“Oh, come on, Morgan, be serious,” the Majority Leader shot back. “If the President nominated Bill and we confirmed him, the Senate would be evenly split. I would have to depend on the Vice President to break any ties and your task of winning back control of the Senate next year would be a lot easier.”

“Perhaps so, Jack,” McBride countered, “but that’s beside the point. All I’m saying is that I like Bill and so do my Republican colleagues. If the President nominated Bill, you’d vote for him, Lloyd, wouldn’t you, even though you don’t agree with him on a lot of things?”

“I would,” Lloyd Gilmore agreed, nodding his head. “I’m one of Senator Cahill’s biggest fans.”

“There, you see, Mr. President,” Senator McBride continued. “Bill Cahill is the kind of candidate who could get a lot of votes in the Senate.”

“Would he get yours, Morgan?” President Long asked.

“Now I’m not sure I could go that far, Mr. President,” McBride replied. “I’m the Leader of our party in the Senate and the Leader always has other responsibilities he has to weigh in making a decision like that. I’m not ruling out voting for Bill, but I wouldn’t want to commit to voting for him either.”

“Even though you think he’s eminently well qualified for the job, Morgan?” the President asked.

“I do think he’s qualified, but he’s a damn liberal like you, Mr. President. What would people in my party think if I voted for a damn liberal? What would people in Kentucky think? They wouldn’t be happy. I can damn sure tell you that. No sir; they wouldn’t be happy at all if I voted for Bill Cahill to be Chief Justice.”

“At what point does all of this end then, Morgan?” the President asked. “If we always do whatever the people in our party want, whatever the people in our constituencies insist on, aren’t we just followers, not leaders? When do we tell all the partisans we’ve had enough? That we’re going to do what we think is right for the country, not just what’s right for our party or state?”

“With all due respect, Mr. President, I’ll have to disagree with you on that,” Senator McBride responded. “I believe what Kentucky wants, what the Republican Party wants, is what’s best for the country.”

“I see,” the President responded, suppressing the instinct to roll his eyes; “and what about the rest of you, gentlemen? Do you have someone you think I should nominate to fill this vacancy?”

“I think you should nominate Vaughn Carroll,” the Senate Majority Leader, Jack Durning, replied.

“Me too,” Bill Cahill chimed in.

“And what about you, Senator Gilmore?” the President asked.

“I’d vote for Bill if you nominated him, Mr. President,” the Senator replied. “But I know he’s not interested in the job and I can’t think of anyone else you could plausibly nominate that I could support. Like Morgan, I’m old-school. I don’t think anything will ever change until a new generation of leaders appears on the scene. Until then, for better or worse, I suspect we’re stuck with partisan bickering as the rule, not the exception.”

“Well, thank you for being candid, Lloyd,” President Long said. “I appreciate the honesty. Regrettably, I guess there’s nothing more to be said, but I thank you for coming down here this morning. I guess we’ll tell the press we had a useful but inconclusive exchange of views. Does that sound about right to everyone?”

“It does, Mr. President,” Senator McBride replied, standing up.

“Again, thanks for meeting with me, gentlemen,” the President said, ending the discussion.

With that he escorted the four powerful Senators from the Oval Office to the driveway where reporters were already gathered waiting for the comments they needed in order to file their mid-day stories on the big powwow at the White House.

****

Returning to the Oval Office, the President looked at his chief of staff and shook his head.

“You know, Wayne, I think I would have done it,” the President volunteered.

“Done what?”

“I think I would have nominated Bill Cahill to fill that vacancy if McBride had promised to vote for him on the spot.”

“Are you serious, Mr. President?”

“I am,” the President said. “I can’t believe McBride is still bitching about what happened to Bork, especially considering all his party has done to stir up partisan divisions. Unlike Garland, Bork got hearings. He got a vote. He even got some Democratic votes, but not enough to offset the six Republicans who voted against him.”

“You would have paid a heavy political price if you did something like that,” Wayne Taylor responded. “I guess I’m glad McBride turned out to be so predictable. He really is a cancer on the American body politic.”

“He is indeed,” the President agreed. “Every generation produces a few politicians like that. Before there was a Morgan McBride, there was a Newt Gingrich, a Dick Cheney, and a Mitch McConnell. And who knows? Maybe this entire generation of politicians is a cancer on the body politic, not just Morgan McBride. Like they say, it is what it is.”

“I’ve set aside some time on your schedule later this afternoon to go over the list of nominees we think you should consider, Mr. President,” Taylor replied, pivoting to the more pressing issue. “We’re still massaging it a bit. But once you take a look and make the final decision, we’ll send it over to the FBI and have them begin vetting the candidates.”

“Very good, Wayne; and thanks for arranging this meeting. I knew exactly what would come of it so I’m not surprised. But we had to make the effort and so we did.”

****

In the White House driveway where a crowd of reporters had encircled him and Bill Cahill, Senate Majority Leader Jack Durning (D-Michigan) began fielding the first of many questions that would be tossed at him that morning.

“How did the meeting with the President go, Senator Durning?”

“I thought it was a useful meeting,” the Majority Leader lied. “We didn’t come to any agreement, but that wasn’t the purpose. The President was just seeking our input on who he should consider to replace Chief Justice Saviano.”

“Did you have a suggestion, Senator?”

“I did,” Jack Durning replied. “But that’s between the President and me.”

“What about the Republicans, Senator Durning? Did they offer any suggestions; and if so, who?”

“They did offer a suggestion,” Durning replied, “but you’ll have to ask them about that. Suffice it to say that nothing concrete came out of the meeting this morning, but at least we did have the opportunity to exchange views. That’s always helpful in clearing the air.”

Having secured the Democratic quote they needed, the assembled reporters scurried across the way to get a reaction from Senator Morgan McBride. As they did so, the reporters who had been questioning McBride were scurrying in the opposite direction to hear what Senator Jack Durning had to say.

In the end, the responses from the four Senators weren’t dramatically different. They were sufficient, however, for the headline that would be posted within the hour on the internet.

GRIDLOCK!
No Agreement on Saviano Successor
Bitter Struggle Looms

****

Later still, back in his office at the U.S. Capitol, Senate Minority Leader Morgan McBride debriefed his assembled leadership team on the results of his meeting with the President.

“What a waste of time that was,” McBride volunteered. “And what a complete fool that man is. He actually pretended he was interested in who I thought he should nominate. Do you believe that?”

Following the lead of Senator McBride himself, the GOP leadership team chuckled in unison.

“Did you suggest someone when he asked, Morgan?” Senator Warren Hastings of Kansas, the head of the Senate Republican Conference, asked.

“I did,” McBride responded, chuckling again. “I knew the idiot would ask me to do that so I suggested Bill Cahill. Bill doesn’t look very well these days. I doubt we’d be burdened with him very long if the President decided to take my advice.”

“Not that I expected him to do that, of course. There’s no way in hell the President would do anything to reduce the Democrat majority in the Senate, especially a seat in a competitive state like Pennsylvania where a Republican Governor would appoint Cahill’s successor.”

“But at least I was able to tell the reporters I did make a suggestion and that it wasn’t someone with whose views I agreed; that it was a Democrat in good standing. I didn’t give them Bill’s name, but I plan to leak it later this afternoon so the press can run with that on the evening news.”

“That’s smart,” Senator Orrin Miller, the Republican Whip, chimed in. “We can spin that as the President spurning our effort at bipartisanship.”

“We should definitely do that and more,” McBride agreed. “But what we need to do now is go over the list of some of our more moderate colleagues; the ones who might be tempted to break with the party when the President nominates Vaughn Carroll.”

“You know, I try to be tolerant of those boys and girls most of the time,” the Minority Leader added. “I understand they have difficult constituencies and need to vote for some things you or I would never approve of because that’ll help get them reelected.”

“But I’m not going to tolerate any deviations from the party line on this nomination; not when the President is going to name Vaughn Carroll. No sir; Carroll has to be defeated if we’re going to have any leverage on this situation. I won’t tolerate people breaking ranks although I suspect some will think about it. But you can be damn sure they’ll pay a price if they do; a heavy price.”

“Here’s the list we’ve come up with of who might break ranks,” McBride added, distributing copies to those present. “I want you to memorize this list because it won’t be leaving this room. We’ll destroy it after you memorize it, which shouldn’t be hard.”

“There aren’t any real surprises. In any event, once you’ve memorized it, I want you to talk to each and every one of these potential backstabbers every time you see them from now on and let them know just how big a price they’ll pay if they even think about breaking ranks.”

Having reviewed the list and received marching orders from their Leader, the GOP team quickly dispersed, anxious to prove their fealty to Morgan McBride. Although they didn’t like the man, they were afraid to cross him. And whatever else anyone said, McBride got things done.

As politicians themselves, they admired that.

****

At the White House later that day President Harrison Long was meeting with his chief of staff to review the list of potential successors to Chief Justice Saviano.

“So predictable, Wayne,” the President sighed, shaking his head. “I was hoping you were going to surprise me with someone new.”

“Oh come on, Mr. President; you’ve known all along who would be on this list. All we’ve been doing is going over their written opinions and public statements over the years with a fine tooth comb to make sure all of them are on board when it comes to the key issues; abortion, campaign finance, minority rights, etc.”

“And they’re all good?” the President asked.

“They are,” Taylor replied. “They’re on the record on those and the rest of the issues we care about. Whichever one you choose, there shouldn’t be any surprises.”

“Well, then, I guess I should count my blessings,” the President said. “Still . . .”

Although the President allowed his words to drift off into silence, Wayne Taylor sensed something was bothering the man.

“Still what?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t know, Wayne,” the President responded. “It’s like I said before. These names are all so predictable. Nothing against them; they’re all great judges, Carroll and Saiers especially. Any of them would do a terrific job as Chief Justice. But not a single one will command broad support among the Republicans.”

“I mean, they’ll get a few Republican votes; whatever the bare minimum needed to get to the fifty votes we need. It’ll probably cost the taxpayers a fortune in roads, bridges, and dams to bring a few of them on board.”

“But I could throw a dart at this list and make the selection that way knowing full well any of them will end up being denounced, slandered and humiliated by the Republicans before the confirmation process finishes up.”

“Hell, I could nominate Jesus Christ and he’d be lucky to get the votes needed to be confirmed. He’d probably decide being crucified on a cross was preferable to being nominated to the Supreme Court.”

“Does that really surprise you, Mr. President?” his chief of staff asked, chuckling. “I mean, it’s not like this is the first Court nomination you’ve sent up to the Hill.”

“No; it doesn’t surprise me, Wayne, but it disappoints me. I would like to nominate someone who commanded a lot of support from both sides of the aisle. How much more of this damn partisanship can the country take without permanent damage to our political life as a nation?”

“You didn’t make the rules, Mr. President,” Taylor replied. “The system was already broken when you took office. You just inherited it.”

“I understand,” the President replied, sighing again. “But I’d like to leave the system a little better by the time I leave office.”

Wayne Taylor understood where the President was coming from; that he needed to get the frustration off his chest. He sympathized with his boss, but understood there was little any of them could do to change a system that was badly broken. Standing up, he prepared to depart.

“Is there anything else, Mr. President?” he asked.

“No, I guess not,” Harrison Long replied.

Walking toward the door, Taylor was surprised when the President called out to him.

“Hold on a second, Wayne. There is something else I’d like you to do.”

“What, Mr. President?”

“When you get back to your office, I want you to give Bill Cahill a call. Tell him I plan to submit his name to the FBI as a possible replacement for Saviano. He’ll object, of course; give you all the reasons why I shouldn’t submit his name and why he won’t accept even if I select him.”

“Once he’s done that, you can ask him whether there’s one of his Senate colleagues he thinks would make a good Chief Justice. Someone right on the issues, of course, but someone who could command some support from the Republican side of the aisle.”

“And preferably someone from a state with a Democratic Governor if possible so we won’t lose a seat in the Senate. We can’t afford that.”

“Are you sure you want to do this, Mr. President?” Wayne Taylor asked, by now concerned with what he was hearing. “You’re talking about someone without any experience on the courts most likely. You’d be opening yourself up to criticism for that reason alone.”

“I understand,” the President responded. “But what do we have to lose? I like Bill Cahill. He’s a very smart politician and he damn sure knows what’s at stake with this nomination. He won’t suggest someone who’s wrong on the issues.”

“Beyond that, Bill’s a decent human being. He wouldn’t suggest someone unless he was absolutely convinced the person could do the job.”

“Okay, Mr. President,” the chief of staff responded, knowing better than to argue with his boss once he made up his mind. “But no one Bill Cahill suggests will be Vaughn Carroll and Vaughn Carroll is who the base wants. They’ll be up in arms if you nominate anyone other than Carroll.”

“I realize that, Wayne, so be sure to tell Bill I’m not making any promises and to keep his mouth shut. I may end up nominating Carroll, but at least I’d feel better if I considered someone who might have a chance of ending all this divisiveness.”

“And be sure to tell Bill that’s the kind of person I’m looking for. Someone who can possibly bridge the divide while still being right on the issues we care about.”

“Good luck with that, Mr. President,” his chief of staff replied. “Like you said, not even Jesus Christ could do that. Do you really think some Senator can?”

****

At the Red Fox Inn & Tavern in Middleburg, Virginia, where he and his wife owned a modest country estate and were members of the Orange County Hunt Club, Vaughn Carroll was having dinner late Tuesday evening with A. J. Keenan, the legal correspondent for the New York Times.

Upon reflection, Judge Carroll had decided it would be too risky to talk about the vacancy on the Supreme Court with anyone other than Keenan. Whatever the man’s faults, Keenan was the soul of discretion and could be counted on to protect his sources.

In addition, the location Carroll had chosen for their meeting, about fifty miles west of Washington, offered a discreet private room where the two could have a fine dinner and converse freely without having to worry about being seen together.

“What are you hearing, A.J.?” Vaughn Carroll asked, anxious to pump his dining companion for any new information he might have about the meeting that morning between the President and the Senate leadership.

“Not a lot,” Keenan responded. “One of my sources tells me Morgan McBride suggested the President fill the vacancy with Bill Cahill.”

“That old fool,” Carroll fumed. “The man has absolutely no experience as a judge. His law degree is from some fourth-rate law school in Pennsylvania. He’d be a disaster as Chief Justice. Don’t you agree, A.J.?”

“Who knows?” Kennan responded, eager to preserve the sense of objectivity he liked to cultivate.

“I don’t think the President would do that though,” he quickly added. “He’d have a revolt on his hands if he did. Cahill is too old for one thing; and since Pennsylvania has a GOP Governor, Jack Durning would be apoplectic about having his majority in the Senate reduced.”

“And rightly so,” Vaughn Carrol said, nodding his head in agreement.

“Your name came up as well I hear,” Keenan volunteered. “Morgan McBride is livid about the possibility the President will nominate you.”

“That’s no surprise,” Judge Carroll replied. “He knows full well Saviano’s judicial legacy is in danger if the President selects me.”

“The only other name that came up was Franklin Saiers,” Keenan added. “From what I gather, McBride hates Saiers almost as much as he hates you.”

“Franklin Saiers? I suppose some people would consider him qualified for the job, but it’s hard to believe Long would nominate him.”

“Why do you say that?” A.J. Keenan asked.

“You don’t know, A.J.? Well let me tell you a thing or two about Franklin Saiers.”

So that’s what Vaughn Carroll proceeded to do. From the deepest recesses of memory, Judge Carroll called up every piece of gossip, every innuendo, and every disparaging word that had ever been spoken or written about Franklin Saiers over the years. He did so at length while A.J. Kennan sat there taking notes.

“Not that I can personally vouch for anything I’ve just mentioned, A.J., but things like this are always worth checking out.”

****

In San Francisco, at the James R. Browning Courthouse, Judge Franklin Saiers was talking with one of his judicial colleagues.

“Did you hear the news, Franklin?”

“What news?”

“The New York Times is reporting nothing came of the meeting this morning between the President and the Senate leadership.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Judge Saiers responded.

“Nor me,” his colleague said. “But I thought you might be interested. A lot of us are hoping the President will pick you.”

“That’s the last job in the world I want,” Franklin Saiers responded

“Why wouldn’t you?” his colleague asked. “You’d make a great Chief Justice.”

“I wouldn’t look forward to going through another Senate confirmation hearing for one thing,” Saiers responded. “That last one was brutal enough. More to the point, I’d have to move across the country if selected and that’d mean uprooting Andy.”

“There’s no way in hell a good father should do something like that to a fourteen year old boy just about to start high school.”

“Are you telling me you wouldn’t accept if the President nominated you?” Judge Saiers’ colleague asked, incredulous.

“I don’t know,” the Judge replied. “I’m a citizen as well as a father and citizenship brings responsibilities with it, not just rights. It would be hard to turn the President down if he asked. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that. I think he’ll pick Vaughn Carroll.”

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6 thoughts on “Chapter 06

  1. Read all 6 chapters tonight and will have to go back and make some notes on all the players in this story.

    Not that I haven’t made some predictions in my mind on how some of this will play out. For that I will have to wait and see. But you definitely have me hooked as usual.

    One thing that bothers me is no matter which side of our common border you live political parties have ceased to work for what is best for their constituents but what provides the best chance for re-election. And as far as being PC forget it call a spade a spade.

    1. Thanks for the comment, James. If I was doing it over again, I would have given more thought to how I could help readers better sort out which characters are more important and which less so.

      It’s a little late at this point, but I would say the key players for the gay story are Eric Ford and Richie Remillard. They’re also important for the political tale, but they have to share top billing with others like President Harrison Long, his chief-of-staff, Wayne Taylor, the two Judges, Vaughn Carroll and Franklin Saiers, and several Senators, including Paul Jennings, Bill Cahill, Jack Durning and Morgan McBride.

      That’s still a lot of characters to keep track of. But I’m glad to hear you’re hooked on the story.

      I don’t follow Canadian politics that closely, but I’m surprised to hear you’re not all that keen on the various parties up there. I had the impression the system worked better in Canada than in the U.S.

  2. Thanks very much for the list of main characters. Have a feeling I may not be the only one that appreciates that.

    Politics really should be a 4 letter word. With two major parties it is a different matter yet the last U.S. election shows that the popular vote and the electoral vote can be opposites. In the province I live we have ended up with being government by a party that only received 39% of the popular vote yet they ended up with the majority of the seats. When you have 3 main parties each taking a cut of that 100% gets diluted quickly.

    B.C. is looking into changing to a different format than first past the post. Personally I think anything will be better. As I mentioned before you have 61% of the electorate voting against the party in power yet due to the present system they have the majority of the seats so they can do what they want.

    Somehow I don’t think that is democracy.

    1. But apparently the other two parties has even less support, James. Far from perfect, no doubt about it, but probably better than what we have when a majority of those voting were against having Trump as President and we ended up with him nonetheless due to an anachronism.

  3. And that anachronism is going to bite the American public in the ass until it is done away with. Who is going to have the guts to change the system? Just finished chapter 6, enjoying the story in spite of the topic. And the Canadian system has lots of flaws but it is a lot more flexible if the government has the intestinal fortitude, and perhaps even will to do the “right” thing. We haven’t seen that happen for a very long time.

    1. Wow … Chapter 6 seems like a long time ago, Captain. I had to go back to look at what it was about to catch your meaning.

      I have no clue how judges are appointed in other countries. It would probably have made for a better story if I did.

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