“Democrats have all the cover they need to vote in lockstep against Brett Kavanaugh,” write Burgess Everett and Alana Schor at Politico. “But a half-dozen of them have refused to go there, even after a pair of allegations against the Supreme Court nominee.”
The simple reason why they are understandably uncomfortable in denouncing Brett Kavanaugh without any substantial evidence against him was first observed long ago by an American Founder.
The responsibility for a “bad” Supreme Court nominee lies primarily with the executive, according to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 77. “The blame of a bad nomination would fall upon the President singly and absolutely,” Hamilton writes.
However, he continues to say that the “censure of rejecting a good one would lie entirely at the door of the Senate; aggravated by the consideration of their having counteracted the good intentions of the Executive.”
It seems an inescapable reality that Senate Democrats now face this dilemma.
There are ten Senate Democrats running for reelection in states that were carried by President Trump in 2016, and Republicans hold all the cards in either allowing a further delay to the confirmation vote or forcing the confirmation vote on Friday morning as is currently scheduled (with no prospect of a filibuster, for which we can thank Harry Reid). And unless these Democrats have more of a reason to vote “no” on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee than the strength of allegations in which dates, times, and locations of the alleged crimes, and without one single eyewitness beyond the accusers themselves, they know that they will run headlong into the ire of their respective states’ citizens if the president they voted for has his nominee rejected by their Democrat Senator. This is even more assured, and will be more quickly realized, today than in Hamilton’s time, given the far more populist nature of today’s Senate elections than the Constitution originally prescribed.
There are three ways that this will play out.
The first is the likeliest. Christine Blasey Ford, if she shows up, will testify on Thursday in Washington along with Brett Kavanaugh. The American people will witness the testimony of a woman which we know absolutely nothing about argue for the absolute truth about her nearly four-decade-old memories, substantiated by nothing more than her own inarguably unreliable recollection, and without a single witness that she claims was there even remembering the “gathering” in question. We will also witness the complementary testimony of a man who has spent much of his life in easily reviewable public service, who has been vetted by the FBI several times, explain why he has never done any such thing and was never at any such “gathering.”
There is no new evidence that Christine Blasey Ford can offer, as yet noted. It will undoubtedly be a “he said, she said” affair, and in no way should that media spectacle, absent new evidence, sway the opinion of our lawmakers.
That’s the modestly positive possible outcome for Democrats. They will still lose a couple of seats in the Senate, I’d wager, but those Democrats who remain in power can still claim their #MeToo bona fides to their constituents, and still tout any Supreme Court decision that they don’t like as illegitimate.
Then, there’s the second potential outcome. Democrats, and some Republican defectors, vote to reject Kavanaugh on the grounds of allegations against him which lack any discernible evidence.
This is the worst possible outcome for those Democrats battling to keep their seats in states that supported Trump. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single turn of events that might galvanize Republicans and reasonable independents against Senate Democrats more than this nefarious subterfuge employed solely for the purpose of “rejecting” Trump’s unquestionably “good” Supreme Court nominee.
Then, there’s the third, and by far, unlikeliest potential outcome. Republicans could choose to double-down on their bad decision to not force this vote for confirmation two weeks ago, allowing the Democrats to continue the ridiculous circus that they’ve begun into weeks beyond now.
It’s unthinkable to imagine that this might happen. Republicans must force the vote to confirm Kavanaugh on Friday morning, and no later. A refusal to do so will spell doom for Republicans, who risk demoralizing their base of constituents. Republicans must give the Senate Democrats an opportunity to either accept or “reject” Kavanaugh.
Trump certainly had “good intentions” when he nominated Kavanaugh, and Americans voted for Trump expecting he would do exactly that. Kavanaugh certainly wasn’t the first pick for many social conservatives, to be sure. But he was a “good” pick by Trump, in the sense that he seems beholden to the law and reasoned appraisal of judicial precedent, generally impartial with immaculate credentials, and his “extraordinary intellect and experience” even drew support from hard-lined leftist colleagues like Lisa Blatt, who said that “Judge Kavanaugh is the best choice that liberals could reasonably hope for.”
If Kavanaugh’s confirmation is derailed by Republicans, who have the ability and every right to force a vote and a declared outcome at the hands of vulnerable Democrats, based upon media pressure and the flimsy, decades-old, and undeniably hazy memories of women who cannot remember even the most basic details around an alleged encounter without a shred of evidence, and if this is all achieved via the Senate Democrats’ unbelievably sinister timing and calculated obstruction meant to destroy Trump’s sensible Supreme Court nominee (not to mention Kavanaugh’s entire life and legacy) on those insubstantial grounds, Republicans may be left in the cold on election day, with a demoralized electorate sitting at home wishing for a Party which will achieve the things they were once promised by Trump’s election.Namely, an originalist Justice for the Supreme Court like Brett Kavanaugh.