August 3, 2018
This week, we’ve taken a closer look at the political parties’ records when it comes to referring Supreme Court nominees out of the Judiciary Committee, both of their own party and of the opposition party. We’ve seen that Democratic senators tend to dig their heels in when it comes to Republican presidential nominees like Judge Brett Kavanaugh, at least in recent history. On a hunch, we’ll be analyzing their voting records when it comes to confirmation votes before the full Senate – all the senators, not just the committee members – and we’ll report back to you on that next week. If, as we suspect, the political recalcitrance for voting for a nominee of the opposing party is also pronounced in the full Senate, it may go some way to explaining why Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) was so firm in his renunciation of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)’s “fishing expedition” for millions of pages of documents relating to Kavanaugh’s time serving as Staff Secretary to President George W. Bush.
Ordinarily, the Senate would be starting its August recess. But Leader McConnell has kept the members in Washington for the first two weeks of the summer to work on some unfinished business – notably, votes on two presidential nominees to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, a court that had been considered a bastion of conservatism but in recent years has been tipped the other direction by Democratic nominees. Early hopes of Senate Republican leadership that a nomination hearing could be held in August have slipped a bit; according to leadership’s projections, it looks like the nomination hearing will be held in the first week of September and will involve two days of testimony. If the hearing and the full Senate vote proceed without undue delay, Judge Kavanaugh could be seated on the Supreme Court bench by the start of the new term on October 1st.
One parting word, which ought to say it all and put a bow on the week. Self-proclaimed “liberal Democrat and feminist” Lisa Blatt, an eminent Supreme Court advocate who has argued more cases before the Court than any other female attorney, penned a defense of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination in Politico yesterday that addressed several of the anti-Kavanaugh tactics we’ve discussed over the last couple of weeks. “Sometimes a superstar is just a superstar,” Blatt declares. “That is the case with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who had long been considered the most qualified nominee for the Supreme Court if Republicans secured the White House. The Senate should confirm him.”
Blatt’s response to those who see a threat to Roe v. Wade in Kavanaugh’s nomination is thoughtful and gracious:
I do not have a single litmus test for a nominee. My standard is whether the nominee is unquestionably well-qualified, brilliant, has integrity and is within the mainstream of legal thought. Kavanaugh easily meets those criteria. I have no insight into his views on Roe v. Wade—something extremely important to me as a liberal, female Democrat and mother of a teenage girl. But whatever he decides on Roe, I know it will be because he believes the Constitution requires that result.
Blatt responds to those who, against all the evidence, consider Kavanaugh anti-woman, echoing Yale Law dean Amy Chua in saying, “[O]ther than my former boss, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I know of no other judge who stands out for hiring female law clerks.” And her word of advice to those senators who are trying to sandbag Kavanaugh and refuse to meet with him is, “Democrats should quit attacking Kavanaugh—full stop. It is unbecoming to block him simply because they want to, and they risk alienating intelligent people who see the obvious: He is the most qualified conservative for the job.”