Apparently trying to delay the confirmation until after the election, when they hope to seize control of the Senate, Democrats are refusing to meet with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and are demanding to review around a million documents related to his past work.
That would, I imagine, set us up for a vote sometime in 2024. McConnell wants a vote by October 1 of THIS year, the day the Supreme Court goes into session.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he won’t meet with Kavanaugh until Republicans agree to provide the documents. Other Democrats are following his lead, and while Kavanaugh has met with many Republicans, he has not sat down with a single Democrat.
That’s fine. McConnell certainly played political games by refusing to schedule a vote of Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, even though he was nominated ten months before the next president would take office.
But Democrats have a problem. They don’t run the Senate, as McConnell surely will remind them. Also, if they delay things in October, red state senators defending their seats will have less time to campaign. And the closer it gets to the election, the more the Kavanaugh issue will motivate conservatives to go to the polls. The Supreme Court, remember, was one of the biggest issues for conservatives in 2016.
So the Dems are playing poker, but they’ve got a losing hand.
Since there are 51 Republcians and only a majority of the Senate is needed for confirmation, the only thing that could sink the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is if two Republicans oppose it. And the pair whom conservatives and the White House are most concerned about, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, issued statements last night that should provide a sense of comfort.
I’m not expert on legal matters. And I’m not an attorney, and I have the bank account to prove it. But I do know how to read the tea leaves in Washington.
This is Collins’ statement:
Judge Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and extensive experience, having served more than a decade on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. I will conduct a careful, thorough vetting of the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as I have done with the five previous Supreme Court Justices whom I have considered. I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to questioning him in a meeting in my office.
There are no hints of concern, which she could have added. And Collins, who comes from a family of politicians and is a swamp creature in pretty good standing, notes Kavanaugh’s “impressive credentials and extensive experience.” That is, he’s been hanging around the swamp for quite some time. So that looks pretty good to her.
To be nicer about it, Collins has vast experience and respects others who do as well. As long as Kavanaugh pledges to consider “precedent,” which she says is her key concern – and a sneaky way for her to say she thinks he’ll uphold Roe v. Wade – she will probably back him. And Kavanaugh is going to talk about precedent during his hearings as if it were his favorite uncle.
And here is most of the statement from Murkowski:
I intend to review Judge Kavanaugh’s decisions on the bench and writings off the bench, and pay careful attention to his responses to questions posed by my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Judiciary will also review Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications prior to these hearings and issue a rating. I intend to carefully consider that rating, the information obtained through personal meetings, my own review of Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications and record, and the views of Alaskans in determining whether or not to support him.
Again, no hint of anything negative. And note two things here. First, like Collins, Murkowski is emphasizing Kavanaugh’s qualifications, since she suggests she’ll give strong weight to the opinion of the American Bar Assocation, which reviews whether he’s fit to serve. The ABA has rated the last six nominees, including justices Alito and Gorsuch, “well qualified.” No doubt they will do the same for Kavanaugh, since the one thing everyone agrees on is that the veteran judge and Ivy League grad is well qualified.
Second, she also points to the opinion of Alaskans. It’s hard to imagine that people in this heavily Republican state will oppose a mainstream conservative justice.
It will be a rocky road and a pitched battle. But by choosing someone who has worked for years in the swamp – as a judge in Washington and as a Bush administration official and member of Ken Starr’s Whitewater investigative team – and who yet still seems quite conservative, Trump appears to have made a choice that will be approved by the Senate while also galvinizing his conservative base. Pretty smart.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) privately urged President Trump in a phone call earlier this week to nominate federal Judge Merrick B. Garland, then President Barack Obama’s third nominee to the Supreme Court who was summarily shunned by Senate Republicans in 2016, to replace retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
Trump had called Schumer on Tuesday afternoon for a Supreme Court-centered conversation that lasted less than five minutes, according to a person familiar with the call. Schumer, the person said, pressed the president to name Garland to succeed Kennedy, arguing doing so would help unite the country.
Unite the country? I don’t think so.
This is Chuck’s plan to keep every Republican home on Election Day 2018 and 2020. That the phone call lasted less than five minutes, I assume, is a sign Trump got a good laugh over this and went on to the next thing.
All of this, of course, presupposes that Schumer isn’t in the early stages of dementia, which if he is, certainly would not be a laughing matter.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is pretty irritating, I have to admit. She’s always saying, essentially, Well, I don’t know, I just might not be a Republican today, okay?
I guess that’s what a Republican needs to do to survive in the Northeast. Still, it’s annoying.
Anyway, Collins did not say Sunday during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that she will oppose any Supreme Court nominee who is hostile to Roe v. Wade, as some reports are suggesting. She said she would oppose anyone who admitted it.
“I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade,” she said.
Get it? The key word here is “demonstrated.” Nobody talks like that except attorneys and politicians, who speak very, very carefully – so as to be MISunderstood.
Here’s the full exchange. It occurs near the video at the bottom of this post.
COLLINS: I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade, because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law.
And I believe that that is a very important, fundamental tenet of our judicial system, which, as Chief Justice Roberts says, helps to promote stability and even-handedness.
TAPPER: So, you will not support anyone who has demonstrated hostility towards Roe vs. Wade, but there are plenty of justices that The Federalist Society and other experts likely think will vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, but they don’t have a record of hostility towards Roe vs. Wade.
For instance, don’t you think, just as an academic matter, Neil Gorsuch, for whom you voted, don’t you think he is probably going to vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade if given the chance?
COLLINS: I actually don’t.
I had a very long discussion with Justice Gorsuch in my office, and he pointed out to me that he is a co-author of a whole book on precedent. So, someone who devotes that much time to writing a book on precedent, I think, understands how important a principle that is in our judicial system.
So she tries to bury this whole thing in respecting “precedent.” As if Roe v. Wade is a fine red wine that gets more delicious with age.
On ABC News she went a little further, saying someone who would overturn Roe V. Wade would not be acceptable to her. But again, look closely at what she says. She not going to ask the question:
So a nominee position, whether or not they respect precedent, will tell me a lot about whether or not they would overturn Roe v. Wade. A candidate of this import position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me, because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have . . .
I don’t like to go into the details of my conversation with the president, but he did tell me that he would not be asking that question. And indeed, it would be inappropriate to ask a judge nominee on how they are going to vote in a future case.
See? She’s going to try to infer his position.
And let’s just note here how deeply ironic it is that she is stating that she doesn’t want an “activist” judge who woiuld overturn Roe v. Wade, when the decision is the most famous example of judicial activism in history.
Yeah, I get precedent. But in matters of life and death, precedent goes out the window. And she knows that. Collins is not making a serious point about judicial philosophy. She is making a serious point about getting reelected in Maine.
But she is not saying she will oppose a conservative justice who would overturn Roe V. Wade.
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