- - Monday, October 8, 2018


A great battle was won, but the struggle continues. Years will pass before the full implications of the nomination and confirmation of Brett M. Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court will play out, and perhaps more years will follow after that before the implications are clearly understood.

What actually happened is clear enough. Deprived at last of legitimate objections to Mr. Kavanaugh, the Democrats turned, not so reluctantly, to character assassination. This will be clear enough to the historians, and it is enough now to say that the opposition was bumptiously political, which was fair enough, but political in a way that could not be justified when set against considerable legitimate qualifications of learning, character and integrity. That was not fair at all, and the Democrats ultimately paid dearly.

The tales told by Christine Blasey Ford, Ph.D., ugly reminisces of childhood, were never corroborated and in fact were refuted by witnesses chosen to corroborate them. Mrs. Ford was left with a tale as if told by Faulkner’s idiot. There was no corroboration, even from her closest friends. Accusation is not evidence. Yet.

There was never any question about the professional qualifications of Justice Kavanaugh. The American Bar Association gave him its highest recommendation, a recommendation untouched even when the president of the bar association, caught up in the manufactured hysteria of the left, tried to withdraw it. There was no opposition based on the Kavanaugh record over 28 years as lawyer and jurist, most recently as a judge of U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, regarded as the most important of the several U.S. Courts of Appeal. He was opposed by the Democrats for his conservative political opinions, and by arguments based entirely on innuendo and intrigue. Prominent Democratic leaders had denounced the list of distinguished lawyers and judges from which President Trump said he would choose, an unusual and remarkable effort for more transparency in the nominating process.

Politics is fraught with irony, and one great irony is that the Republicans must thank Harry Reid, who preceded Chuck Schumer as leader of the Democrats in the Senate, for making Brett Kavanaugh possible. Mr. Reid pushed the button on the so-called nuclear option, eliminating the 60-vote requirement to confirm federal judges. This enabled Barack Obama to pack the judiciary with Democratic liberals of his choosing, and in turn gave Mitch McConnell a precedent on which to push the button again, and extend opportunity to confirm Supreme Court nominees with a simple majority.

Washington had rarely seen anything like the campaign of character assassination against Justice Kavanaugh since Sen. Joseph McCarthy accused certain figures of treason in an earlier season of hysteria, and did it from the floor of the U.S. Senate where he could not be indicted for slander or libel.

The Kavanaugh confirmation circus will likely assure a season of judicial restraint at the High Court, and encourage judges to limit their own power. Restraint is the essence of conservatism. Judges chosen from the ranks of conservatives are more likely to put emphasis on adherence to “stare decisis” and precedent. Judges who do that are not likely to make wholesale changes to constitutional law because they put high value on stability of the law. That, too, is the essence of conservatism. Breaking the furniture and throwing dishes at the cat is work for the liberal judges with the legal philosophy of anything goes.

But the Kavanaugh confirmation circus has other troublesome implications. Is this the way we will now confirm candidates for high federal office? The Democrats are saying, as if to console their rank and file to hold steady because revenge is coming, they intend to open an impeachment circus if they win a majority of the House next month.

They did great damage to the republic with their McCarthy tactics in the Kavanaugh confirmation, and now they’re saying “we are not done yet.” The worst, alas, may be yet to come.

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