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When President Trump announced his intention to swiftly fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, commentators fretted that a Supreme Court confirmation fight in a heated election season would plunge the nation into more vitriol and conflict than it could bear.

Yet, less than two months later, the Senate has voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett — to become Justice Barrett — and it hardly feels like the confirmation process has been the dominant news story of the season. Rather than the high drama, conflict and chaos of the Kavanaugh hearings and other recent judicial nominations fights, this historic confirmation has played out (relatively) quietly, orderly, almost even respectfully.

Democrats, of course, objected to the idea of filling the vacancy. Given the fact that they have been aggressive belligerents in the judicial wars for decades, it’s hardly credible that they are truly scandalized by the timing, or that they would have behaved differently if the shoe were on the other foot. Nonetheless, largely on this objection, they’ve managed some half-hearted actions designed to display their displeasure but powerless to delay the inevitable. They’ve engaged in irresponsible rhetoric suggesting there’s something illegitimate about the president and the Senate performing core Constitutional functions. What they conspicuously failed to do, however, is to make a case that Judge Barrett was not worthy of confirmation.

If the Senate judged nominees on qualifications, character and fitness alone — which it largely did until Joe Biden led Senate Democrats in applying ideological litmus tests to Judge Robert Bork — there could be no question that Judge Barrett deserved confirmation. Democrats did not try to make the impossible case. No doubt, the danger that any seeming personal attacks on Judge Barrett could have a negative electoral impact in the looming election played a role.

What is remarkable, though, is how tepid the criticisms of Judge Barrett’s legal philosophy ultimately were. Over three decades since the Bork experience taught Republicans that their judicial nominees best have limited paper trails, the Senate is confirming a judge who has been explicit about her originalist judicial philosophy inspired by her former boss, Justice Antonin Scalia. She has made it clear that she stands with millions of Americans who oppose abortion as a matter of her personal policy preference and conscience. Policy preferences should not drive judicial philosophy, as Judge Barrett clearly testified at her hearings, but not long ago we might have thought that either her explicit originalism or her personal political preferences would trigger vicious opposition.

The fact that a nominee with the judicial philosophy and apparent personal views of Judge Barrett can today be confirmed without apology is a tribute to the success of the conservative legal movement. Largely caught blindsided in the Bork fight, conservatives have spent decades building to this confirmation by, among other things, making their case. The central proposition they have put before the public is that it is the duty of a judge to apply the law as written, not to serve as philosopher kings pursuing their own vision of what is best for Americans by legislating from the bench. Judges play an important, but sharply limited role in our system.

In the years since Bork’s defeat, not only has conservative legal philosophy won a seat at the table, it has won the public debate. Of course, originalism still has its critics on the bench and in the academy. Progressive politicians and celebrities can disparage it in bad faith or ignorant tweets. But Democrats still do not have an answer to it, much less an alternative vision. They have no principled case for an activist judiciary, or at least not one they are willing to offer in public.

When Senate Judiciary Democrats attempted to engage in the debate over judicial philosophy with Judge Barrett, what emerged from the dais was an incoherent amalgam of appropriated conservative talking points and liberal policy preferences. They thundered about the importance of stare decisis — the practice of respecting past precedents — but in the next breath, celebrated cases where the progressive wing of the Supreme Court showed no such respect. They pressed Judge Barrett to hold sacrosanct court decisions cherished by progressives; but also heaped contempt on decisions they disliked, such as those to do with Second Amendment rights and political spending. They tried to repurpose Republican language, expressing concern about “activist judges”, “legislating from the bench” and pushing policies through the courts which could not win legislative majorities. (This is an apt description of the Left’s decade’s long campaign in the courts, particularly on social issues, not anything reflected by Judge Barrett.)

One simply cannot distill this into anything representing an understanding of the role of judges in our government. At most, it amounted to a vague sense that the courts should produce policy results progressives like. Indeed, Senate Democrats revealed themselves by repeatedly peppering Judge Barrett with naked policy questions, particularly regarding healthcare. As she responded to one of her interlocutors: “I can’t take policy positions or express my personal views before the committee, because my personal views don’t have anything to do with how I would decide cases.”

This is a clear vision of the proper role of the judiciary. It is what Justice Antonin Scalia and other judicial conservatives have argued for decades. It’s succinct, understandable, and in harmony with our Constitution. It’s why Americans supported Judge Barrett’s confirmation by a wide margin.

In the end, it is perhaps not surprising that Democrats chose to boycott the committee vote on Judge Barrett. Instead of attending to debate the merits of the nomination, they sent in their place cardboard photos of sympathetic Americans with preexisting health conditions. When you don’t have an answer, sometimes the best political options you have are to walk away or change the subject.

Gregg Nunziata is an attorney in Washington and former Chief Nominations Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Inside Angelina Jolies constant stream of attacks on Brad Pitt

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Next month will mark the six-year anniversary of Angelina Jolie shocking the world by filing for divorce from Brad Pitt.

But despite being declared legally single in 2019, the exes are still no further in coming to a custody agreement for their kids — even as they reach college age.

“It appears that Angelina is determined that Brad should never get 50/50 custody,” one source familiar with the legal battle told The Post. “And there are some who say that she won’t rest until the kids are legally adults, so Brad will never have shared custody.”

It’s just the latest salvo in a seemingly never-ending war. “Angelina makes a constant stream of attacks on Brad. And she deliberately sold her disputed share of their vineyard to a buyer she knew he didn’t want,” a friend of Pitt believes.

Pitt, 58, has been on red carpet all over the world lately as he prepares to open his latest movie “Bullet Train,” this weekend, but he apparently can’t escape the long reach of Jolie.

Lawyers for Jolie reportedly arranged for process servers to attempt to serve Pitt with a subpoena at February’s SAG Awards.FilmMagic

In legal papers in June, Pitt, 58, claimed that Jolie, 47, intentionally “sought to inflict harm on” him by selling her interests of the Chateau Miraval wine brand to Russian businessman Yuri Shefler, the founder of Stoli Vodka.

Pitt said they had agreed to never sell their respective shares without the other’s permission. He also asked for a trial by jury.

“It’s his baby, he’s very proud of it and he’s put all of the revenue from the business into the vineyard and Miraval studios,” said a Hollywood friend, noting that the Correns, France, vineyard estate also boasts a recording studio.

Pitt has claimed in legal papers that Jolie intentionally “sought to inflict harm on” him by selling her interests of the Chateau Miraval wine brand to the founder of Stoli Vodka.

“Unfortunately, Angelina sold her part, which was contrary to their agreement, to somebody they had both turned down before,” the friend added, as Pitt had previously said no to a deal with Stoli.

And then there was the recent news that lawyers for Jolie sent process servers to the SAG Awards in February, hoping to catch Pitt off-guard with a subpoena for Miraval matters at the event. (He did not attend.) This was another example of Jolie trying to create a public scene to exacerbate the situation, according to sources in the know.

In April, Page Six reported that Jolie had allegedly unleashed “a desperate fishing expedition” by suing the FBI under the name “Jane Doe” to find more about its investigation into an alleged 2016 private-jet altercation incident involving Pitt and their son Maddox, and why its agents didn’t charge the actor.

Chateau Miraval winery is based at the Correns, France, estate of the same name.Corbis via Getty Images

An anonymous call was made to authorities, which triggered the FBI investigation, which closed on Nov. 22, 2016, with no charges of wrongdoing. Days later, Jolie filed for divorce.

Page Six is also told that, behind he scenes, things became tense earlier this year when Pitt’s legal team believed that Jolie’s attorneys attempted to have their court-approved child psychologist sanctioned by the California Attorney General’s office based on her perception that the doctor had sided with Pitt, concluding that Pitt should have 50/50 custody of the kids.

Psychologist Stan Katz, who spoke to the Jolie-Pitt minor children for the custody case, is currently under a non-criminal investigation by California Attorney General’s office, per a filing submitted to the Superior Court of California and seen by Page Six.

“It appears that Angelina is determined that Brad should never get 50/50 custody” of their minor children, a source familiar with the legal proceedings said. Angelina hit the red carpet last year with Pax, 18; Vivienne, 14; Zahara, 17; Shiloh, 16; and Knox, 14.FilmMagic

Katz is not believed to have had any complaints made about him in a 30-year career. A source close to Pitt described the report as “scathing” of Jolie.

Although another insider with knowledge of the issues had stressed that Jolie had nothing to do with the investigation, one highly-placed legal insider told Page Six that only one or both of the parties involved in the case could make a complaint. A friend of Pitt’s confirmed it was not the actor.

The filing noted that: “The Court finds the Petitioner (Jolie) has filed a notice of non-opposition and Respondent (Pitt) has taken no position.”

Katz declined to comment. We reached out to the AG’s office. The scope of the investigation is not known, and it’s unclear whether the investigation is still ongoing.

Jolie allegedly sued the FBI under the name “Jane Doe” to find more about its investigation into an alleged 2016 private-jet altercation involving Pitt and their son Maddox.WireImage

After years of back and forth, Pitt was granted joint custody of his minor children in May 2021, as Page Six revealed.

Judge John Ouderkirk however, was subsequently disqualified from the case for not sufficiently disclosing business relationships with Pitt’s attorneys — so it was back to square one, and the exes are still fighting it out for custody.

Another source familiar with the case revealed: “Everything is at a standstill. Last year was a real rollercoaster. Brad was given 50/50 custody in a lengthy, detailed judicial decision. Then the appellate court vacated the decision based on something having nothing to do with the substance of the case.

“It was an internal dispute between the judges and the private judges in California, nothing to do with the custody agreement. It was a technicality. It’s unclear where things stand right now.”

Last year, a judge in their divorce case was disqualified for not revealing business dealings with Pitt’s attorneys — slowing their custody case even further.Pascal Le Segretain

Meanwhile, Pitt is not believed to be close to his and Jolie’s oldest child, son Maddox, who turned 21 on Friday.

Asked how often the actor gets to see the other children, the source familiar with the case said: “He gets to see them, but he still doesn’t have 50/50. But he’s trying to ride it out.”

Both Jolie and Pitt’s reps were unavailable for comment.

The exes have six kids. Maddox currently studies biochemistry at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. Pax, 18, is believed to be continuing with his schooling, and 17-year-old Zahara is about to go off to Spelman College.

Pitt said this week he’s thrilled about daughter Zahara’s acceptance to Spelman College.Getty Images for Turner

Jolie announced in an Instagram post that Zahara will be attending the historically Black college in Atlanta this fall.

“Zahara with her Spelman sisters!” The “Eternals” star captioned an image of her daughter surrounded by fellow Spelman students.

Daughter Shiloh, 16, showed off her hip-hop dance moves moves back in June in a now viral clip set to Doja Cat’s “Vegas.”

Sources say that, while Pitt has gone on dates since the split, he’s not dating right now.Getty Images

Pitt joked about it at the “Bullet Train” premiere: “I don’t know where she got it from. I’m Mr. Two-Left-Feet here.” He also said that Zahara’s acceptance to college “brings a tear to the eye.”

It’s a new side of the Oscar winner, who also shares 14-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox with Jolie, as he has previously been so protective about his kids he rarely talked about them.

Pitt has been on the promo trail for “Bullet Train,” traveling to Paris, Berlin and London over the past month.

In Germany, the actor hit the red carpet wearing a skirt that he co-designed with Haans Nicolas Mott.

Pitt has been promoting his new film, “Bullet Train.”Getty Images for Sony Pictures

When asked why he wore the skirt, Pitt told Variety: “I don’t know! We’re all going to die, so let’s mess it up.”

The Hollywood friend said the answer is simple: “Brad travels regularly, but this was his first major event for a few years and he had a lot of fun with it.”

But “fun” doesn’t mean romance right now. Pitt is “not currently dating anyone,” said the Hollywood friend. “He’s gone on dates over the past couple of years, but he’s not dating anyone currently.”

Instead, Pitt is spending time on his art, architecture and hanging out with friends. He will appear in the Damien Chazelle–directed drama “Babylon” with Margot Robbie and Olivia Wilde, which opens on Christmas Day.

“He’s in a good place,” said the Hollywood friend. “He had a good break in Europe. He seems refreshed and relaxed.”

Filed under angelina jolie ,  brad pitt ,  8/6/22

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