The anxiety on the left is palpable in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S Supreme Court.
None of this is fake. It’s all very real.
However, amid the legitimate angst, a few facts must be kept in mind.
Kavanaugh would replace Anthony Kennedy, who hardly has been a committed liberal. I heard a TV commentator say Monday night that Kavanaugh would likely vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act if that case somehow again comes before the court.
Well yes. But Kennedy already voted to overturn the ACA. So how would Kavanaugh be different?
Women’s rights, of course, are an altogether different matter and that explains the worry of many liberals.
Are there any hopeful signs here?
There may be a small bit of light amid the darkness of a potential reactionary court. That is that judges on the High Court tend to change over time. At least some of them do. Call it the luxury of having a lifetime appointment.
William Brennan, who turned out to be an unabashed liberal, was appointed by Republican president Dwight Eisenhower. And when President Gerald Ford appointed John Paul Stevens, he probably did not know the new justice would often veer left.
Yes, times are much more polarized today. But that in itself does not automatically mean that Supreme Court judges are incapable of altering some of their preconceived views over time.
In the meantime, Democrats, many of whom are already energized, have yet another campaign issue to dangle before liberal-minded voters – a further right wing takeover of the Supreme Court. Call it the slimmest of silver linings. No election is going to stop the Senate from confirming Kavanaugh. But Democrats can certainly make abortion rights and gay rights an issue for the midterm election.
And in New Jersey, support for women’s rights and gay rights is a winning issue. Sure, Democrats always make women’s rights an issue, but with Roe v. Wade possibly being overturned, the concern is much more real.
It’s happening already and the focus is on District 11 congressional candidate Jay Webber, a strong pro-life Republican.
Early this morning, the group, NJ11th for Change, launched a blistering attack on Webber.
The punch line: “Webber is not pro-life. He is pro-birth. There are very specific lives he considers sacred and others he doesn’t give a *&#%$ about.”
A few hours later, Democratic candidate Mikie Sherrill issued a release that in part called on Webber to “tell the Senate to ensure that any Supreme Court nominee will protect our healthcare and a woman’s right to choose.”
Webber, who long has opposed abortion, is obviously not going to do that. And Sherrill just as obviously knows it.
But the Democrats’ strategy is easy to see – use the fear of a very conservative court to bring more voters to the polls, even if there is no direct correlation between the two. Keep in mind a lot of people who vote in presidential elections don’t vote in the midterm election.
Another point that needs to be made is how the traditional sanctity of the Supreme Court is being shattered, probably forever.
There was a time not really all that long ago when ideology was not the motivating force for selecting a judge. The main criteria was a well-rounded background and a foremost legal mind. That is why in the past, we have seen Republican presidents select judges who turned out to be liberals and vice-versa.
No longer. Politics is all that matters now.
And for that, we must “thank” Mitch McConnell.
It’s almost ancient history now, but there was no reason other than politics for the McConnell-led Senate not to vote two years ago on Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
To the everlasting frustration of those on the left, McConnell gambled and won. Not only did Republicans hold the Senate, they won the presidency as well.
So from now on, raw political considerations are going to determine who gets to the Supreme Court.
There will come a time when Democrats will again control the Senate and the White House.
When that happens, you can expect Democrats to make sure the only judges who make it to the Supreme Court are those who consistently espouse a liberal viewpoint.
No, that’s not how the nation’s highest court is designed to work.
But Mitch McConnell has changed things – and not for the better.