WASHINGTON – This week marks the one year anniversary of the Senate confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The hearings broke civil norms with senators frequently interrupting and stepping on each other verbally and a litany of outbursts from protesters. At one point, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) described the process as the "Twilight Zone," referring to the popular TV series that featured a blend of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
Carrie Severino, an attorney for the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, worked with other like-minded groups to support Kavanaugh's nomination.
Her familiarity with what happened behind-the-scenes and some of the key players is the subject of her new book, Justice on Trial, co-authored by Molly Hemingway.
It includes firsthand accounts from sources in the White House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, describing how the confirmation fight was less about Kavanaugh than the potential ideological shift in the balance of the court.
That, according to Severino, brought out a well-coordinated effort between special interest groups, public relations firms, and the media.
"So all of those went together went to produce, really, the worst confirmation process we've seen in American history," Severino told CBN News.
At the White House nomination announcement, President Donald Trump had called for a swift, bipartisan vote. However, the hearings moved slowly with a series of delays that eventually led to sordid allegations of alcohol abuse, assault, and gang rape against Trump's second high court nominee.
As heartrending as it was watching Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh's accuser, testify and Kavanaugh offer his rebuttal, Severino insists it was just as volatile behind the scenes.
The book includes one account among senators and their staff right outside the hearing room when tempers flared.
"That room was full of dozens of people: senators, their staffers. And a fist fight nearly broke out," Severino explained. "There was the frustration. They felt like senators weren't playing it straight and that there was interference by the staff that was inappropriate."
As Justice Kavanaugh returns for his second term in October, the fallout from last year's contentious hearings still linger.
Republicans who voted for his confirmation are locked in tough re-election bids in Maine and Colorado. And some 2020 White House hopefuls have suggested packing the court to counter the conservative ideological shift.
Severino warns filling the next Supreme Court vacancy could actually be worse.
"What concerns me is, of course, the next seat could be a liberal justice stepping down with Donald Trump making the replacement," Severino told CBN News. "If you think Kennedy to Kavanaugh is a shift, a liberal justice – Justice Ginsberg, for example – to a Trump nominee would be a night and day change on the court. And I think we could see the incentives built to have an even more outrageous nomination process."