Not Uniquely Qualified

JACOB DENNINGER: Brett Kavanaugh was qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. I mean, he demonstrated that he is way too partisan to act as an impartial judge, he lied to the Senate while under oath about his high school drinking habits, and he may have committed numerous acts of sexual violence, but in terms of his resume alone, he was qualified. He served as a judge on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for 12 years.

The thing is though, Kavanaugh wasn’t uniquely qualified. For example, Raymond Kethledge, an equally conservative jurist, has served for 10 years on the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, who put together the list of judges from which President Trump has drawn his Supreme Court nominees, said that he would have been equally happy with anyone on the list being the nominee. What that means is that all of the judges on the list were sufficiently conservative for Leo and others in conservative legal circles. So why did Republicans feel the need to push Kavanaugh through the confirmation process despite all of his baggage?

I think there are three explanations. The first is that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans were just playing politics. They wanted a fight to rile up their base, and creating a fight based the idea that men are under attack plays well with the Republican base of white men. Even if Kavanaugh fight played poorly with suburban women and costs Republicans the House (which might have already been lost for Republicans anyway), it will help Republicans keep the Senate by helping in red states with Democratic incumbents, such as North Dakota.

The second possible explanation is that tribalism and political polarization just took over, and the Republicans were looking to win a fight with the Democrats at all costs. Kavanaugh didn’t really matter, red beating blue mattered, Mitch McConnell beating Chuck Schumer mattered.

The third explanation is that Republicans really don’t care about this stuff. They don’t care if Kavanaugh is a biased and partisan jurist because he’s on their side. The don’t care if he lied under oath because he’ll vote to allow restrictive voting laws that benefit Republicans. They don’t care if he sexually assaulted someone and they don’t care about the message putting him on the Supreme Court sends to survivors of sexual assault because he’ll vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.I think all of these explanations were a part of why Republicans pushed Kavanaugh through instead of replacing him with someone like Raymond Kethledge. But while the Democrats also played politics and fed the partisan fire during the nomination fight, not caring about the serious issues of impartiality, lying under oath, and sexual assault was unique to the GOP.

Max Magid