We Don’t Need the Russians

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.

9 comments… add one
  • steve

    “t Bill Clinton was elected twice by minorities of the electorate and to delegitimize the Supreme Court.”

    I am not even going to go look it up as I am sure that Clinton actually got more votes than anyone else. It is when you win the most popular votes but lose in the electoral that people complain.

    As to Kavanaugh, the GOP had the most Senators so they win. Congratulations! That said, I do think it would only be appropriate if Kavanaguh had to wear a red robe. No one else in recent history has been that openly partisan. (We knew this going in didn’t we? 100s of judges in the country, and they had to pick the one who worked on Ken Starr’s team. That tells you something doesn’t it?)

    Steve

  • I am not even going to go look it up as I am sure that Clinton actually got more votes than anyone else.

    That is called “moving the goalposts”. The complaint is about minority rule. If you’re against minority rule, you oppose plurality rule. Otherwise your opposition is merely instrumental.

    The complaint becomes even more absurd when you consider that only 58% of registered voters voted in the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton received less than half of that or about 29% of registered voters. Trump received votes form 27% of registered voters. 29% is legitimate and 27% is illegitimate? That’s absurd. If your standard for legitimacy is majority rule, they’re both illegitimate.

    But we don’t have a majority rule system. Our system is based on electoral votes.

    They’re not complaining because of legitimacy. They’re complaining because the candidate they preferred didn’t win.

    As to Kavanaugh I’ve said my piece. I think that despite the injustice Trump should have withdrawn his appointment.

  • Gray Shambler

    Whomever Trump nominated would have received the same treatment.
    Could your past or mine survive microscopic instant replay examination by our enemies?

  • steve

    Dave- Sorry, but you are talking like a math nerd. You are technically correct on all of the details, but still wrong in the overall discussion. The fact is that one party keep winning elections w/o winning the most votes. The other party keeps winning the most votes, and doesn’t win. The way things are gerrymandered, the Dems need to win about 56-57% of the vote just to have about equal representation in Congress. As was noted, those 51 votes for Kavanaugh come from senators representing, what was it, 46% of the vote.

    So, it is probably a somewhat safe assumption that the people who didn’t vote dont care all that much. Of those who cared to vote, the majority of voters are not being represented. How long is that viable? It is very much about legitimacy. We built in some checks and balances to protect a minority. I dont think we intended for them to rule.

    Steve

  • steve

    “Whomever Trump nominated would have received the same treatment.”

    Wrong. Goresuch didn’t.

  • So, it is probably a somewhat safe assumption that the people who didn’t vote dont care all that much.

    You’re moving the goalposts yet again. We started with wanting majority rule, moved to defending plurality rule, and now you’re staking out the majority of those who care enough to vote as the yardstick.

    I don’t think that 50%+1 is enough consensus to provide legitimacy. I can hardly think that 29% is.

  • Gray Shambler

    “one party keep winning elections w/o winning the most votes.”
    The electoral college was established as another safeguard to protect state’s rights, as you know. And as the Clinton camp had no reason not to know, writing off and disrespecting millions of voters.
    Live and learn.

  • Ben Wolf

    The electoral college was established as another safeguard to protect state’s rights, as you know.

    James Madison wrote the electoral college was adopted because it was the easiest way to keep the slavers happy:

    There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.

  • TarsTarkas

    Ben, you are incorrect. The electoral college was adopted to bring the small states into signing the Constitution, not to bring the slave states in. The three-fifths compromise was made to ensure the small states got a more satisfactory apportionment of electoral votes and representatives than they would have had the slave states gotten what they originally wanted (all slaves counted as full people even though they lacked the vote). That situation is currently reflected in the insistence of states with large illegal populations demanding that they nonetheless be counted as citizens when it comes down to dividing up federal dollars and gaining House seats.

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