There is no lack of bitter complaint or recrimination following the confirmation of President Trump’s appointee, Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court yesterday by a 50-48 vote. A single Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. One Republican, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, abstained. The editors of the New York Times declaim:
The degrading spectacle of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process is behind us; the degrading era of his service on the Supreme Court lies ahead. If senators vote as expected on Saturday, Judge Kavanaugh, with a razor-thin victory on an almost strict party-line Senate vote, will be sworn in as the newest associate justice of the Supreme Court as early as next week.
Credible accusations of sexual assault, lies told under oath, explicitly partisan attacks on the senators trying to assess his fitness to serve: None of it was enough to give Republican leaders more than momentary pause in their campaign to seize decisive control of the Supreme Court.
while the editors of the Washington Post strike a more reasoned note:
THE SENATE voted Saturday to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, after one of the most contentious nomination battles in history and by the slimmest margin for a justice in the modern era. Now, difficult as this seems, it will be up to the new justice to seek to reassure a country riven over his selection that he has the temperament and judgment to do the job; as important, it will be up to the court as a whole to demonstrate that it is not just another partisan institution. And it will be up to those who opposed his confirmation, including this page, to evaluate Mr. Kavanaugh fairly in his new position.
Many Americans believe, with reason, that the GOP-majority Senate muscled the Kavanaugh nomination through in its drive to install a reliable fifth conservative vote. Now, an increasingly dysfunctional Congress and a wayward presidency threaten to place more demands on this new court to address major social problems and perhaps even defuse threats to the nation’s constitutional order. Meantime, a cemented conservative majority will face temptations to wreak major changes in the law. As they confront these challenges, the justices must act as the careful, restrained jurists they claim to be, not the partisans in robes many fear.
Democrats are right to complain that Republicans blocked the appointment of President Obama’s appointee, Merrick Garland. But it ain’t beanbag and they are wrong to argue, as they persistently have, that two wrongs make a right. It would be easier to take their bitterness more seriously if they hadn’t drummed up charge after charge against appointees by Republican presidents, if they had not treated Christine Blasey Ford as shabbily as they have, and if they didn’t defend their own accused of much worse offenses than those of which now Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh was accused by Dr. Ford.
In my view President Trump should have withdrawn his appointment of Brett Kavanaugh and appointed someone else in his place whom the Senate could have quickly moved to confirm. That would have been terribly unfair to Judge Kavanaugh but it might have avoided what is now an open sore, likely to fester over the course of a generation.
The new tack of the Democrats appears to be to complain about the terrible unfairness of our present electoral system, conveniently forgetting that Bill Clinton was elected twice by minorities of the electorate and to delegitimize the Supreme Court. Perhaps the best outcome of this whole sorry chapter would be if Democrats were to suddenly rediscover federalism.
We don’t need the Russians to challenge the legitimacy of our system. We’re doing a fine job without them.