Remember when the biggest issue with Brett Kavanaugh was his right-of-Anthony Kennedy ideology? And you had to wonder how that would impact cases that could come before the court ranging from abortion and affirmative action to the government’s protection of the environment and the interplay of religious beliefs and gay rights.
And, yeah, there were his past indications that a sitting president was in a legal cocoon until leaving office. Could that be disqualifying? It was legal crunch time.
Relatively speaking, that all now seems to hearken back to a more civil judicial era–instead of the SCOTUS hearing from hell that ultimately resulted and, consequently, demeaned our most revered, constitutional institutions. From senatorial probes about legal precedent, it devolved into a circus with a punk ringmaster. Judicial temperament? How oxymoronic. Was this about a Supreme Court nomination or the appointment of the next Capitol Hill Ralph Club president? Was this an iconic, deliberative body doing its constitutional duty–or reality TV?
This was supposed to be about a president using or abusing his prerogative to appoint a justice with a certain legal leaning. There’s ample precedent, although justices don’t always turn out the way appointing presidents had envisioned. President Dwight Eisenhower’s appointment of Earl Warren, for example, is as classic example as there is.
But back when we learned that Trump had chosen Kavanaugh from the Federalist Society’s short list, the most immediate concern was about the backdrop of a special prosecutor investigating an incumbent president. After all, Kavanaugh had written that he believed a president should not be distracted by civil suits and criminal investigations while in office. We all know the Oval Office implications.
So Kavanaugh’s appointment looked less about ideological preference–and more like a self-serving, presidential reach. Recall Sen. Kamala Harris’ take. “The president is an unindicted co-conspirator in federal crimes and has nominated someone to the Supreme Court who believes a sitting president should never be indicted.”
Too bad that wasn’t as bad as it would get.
But we’ll give Kavanaugh the last word in this forum. While he has shown himself to be far less credible than, say, Christine Blasey Ford, he can also, as we observed, be brutally candid.
“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” he groused in his opening statement. All too true.