It almost didn’t matter who he nominated. Everyone knows the drill. The president nominates, the left pounces. It’s that predictable.
It wasn’t always this way, hard as that may be to believe. There was a time, back when politics was serious but not a blood sport — i.e., when most people actually knew something about how our government was designed — when U.S. Supreme Court nominees were almost unanimously approved by Congress.
Not anymore. It all changed 30 years ago when President Reagan nominated Judge Robert Bork to the High Court. The left went berserk, and so successfully vilified the man that his last name became a verb.
Seriously — look up “bork” in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, and you’ll read: “to attack or defeat (a nominee or candidate for public office) unfairly through an organized campaign of harsh public criticism.”
Which brings us to Judge Kavanaugh, who is hoping to fill the seat of the man nominated by Mr. Reagan when Judge Bork’s bid failed.
But while it may be three decades later, the left’s playbook hasn’t changed. And so we’ve all been told what an extremist he is, how untold millions will die on his watch, and so on.
To those of us who remember the Bork hearings, it’s all a rerun. Only the level of outrage is different. Somehow, it’s been cranked to such a level that you have to wonder if the best way to make money these days is to invest in blood-pressure medications.
Judge Kavanaugh’s record shows that the dire warnings being sounded about him are vastly overstated. As Former Attorney General William Barr stated in 2006 when the nominee was being considered for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Kavanaugh “has a keen intellect, exceptional analytical skills, and sound judgment.”
This confidence was well-placed. Ten years later, in 2016, legal expert John Malcolm included him on a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, noting: “Since joining the bench, Kavanaugh has distinguished himself as a thoughtful, apolitical jurist, who is not afraid to stake out bold positions on complex issues.”
One word in that sentence shows why the judge is being demonized by the left: “apolitical.” In their world, the judiciary is meant to be an unelected body of legislators who find all kinds of hidden meanings in the plain text of the U.S. Constitution.
Judge Kavanaugh, however, apparently doesn’t subscribe to this view. And for that, we can be grateful. As former Attorney General Edwin Meese has said, “Judge Kavanaugh follows the same pattern as Justice Neil Gorsuch, a fair and independent jurist who will faithfully apply the law as written and honor the Constitution.”
Applying the law as written — imagine. That’s not what the left wants to hear, which is why they constantly (and improperly) ask Supreme Court nominees how they will rule on certain hot-button issues, from abortion to Obamacare.
When nominees say they can’t answer these types of questions, this is treated as a dodge. But think about it. You might as well ask a potential umpire how he will call it if a certain player takes a pitch low and on the corner when there’s a 3-2 count and a man on second.
How can he answer unless he’s actually in that situation? If he knows the rules inside out, and he’s got a proven record of calling balls and strikes fairly, he’s qualified to call a major-league game.
The same goes for judges. If they know the “rules” — the Constitution — cold, and their record shows they are impartial, knowledgeable and fair, then, generally speaking, they deserve a chance to call some major-league cases.
Brett Kavanaugh certainly does. He’ll have to run the same old gauntlet, but once he has, I’m convinced he’ll be confirmed and go on to be an excellent justice.
• Ed Feulner is a founder of The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).