July 10, 2018

Reaction: Brett Kavanaugh for SCOTUS

Last night president Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the recently-vacated Supreme Court seat.  By most accounts he's a conservative, originalist judge.  He's also been accused of being an Obamacare apologist as well as the man who will single-handedly destroy the Roe v. Wade SCOTUS decision.  It depends on who you ask.  Following is a rundown of reactions to the announcement last night.

Firstly, here's my take. I don't know Kavanaugh's record nearly well enough to say that I think he will be a good choice or not. I know only what I've heard and read in recent days. I was personally rooting for Amy Coney Barrett who seemed like more of a populist pick but more importantly a fierce conservative. I could be wrong. It's been argued that she's a bit too much of a blank slate and therefore a risk to veer left on certain issues. This is too important to make that mistake. She also supposedly faced a harder confirmation process than does Brett Kavanaugh. On the first point there may be some validity; although given a smaller judicial record, the Senate might rely more non-traditionally on her opinions about cases. Or they would try to do so. That could apply to Republicans not just Democrats. On the second point what is interesting to me is the potential impacts on the president's and the GOP's midterm election prospects. Does a Senate no vote on Amy Coney Barret fire up the Republican base to turn out or does it deflate their mood and turnout? Does it make the president look weaker or just support his argument that we need more Republicans in the senate? We may never know the answer to that but there are clues.

The president may have wanted to deliver on his promises to his base. An achievement (assuming Kavanaugh is the easier nomination to approve) may be a better seller than a failed nomination. Or maybe the president is interested in shoring up support among the establishment Republicans (and in the process making George Will look bad, as an added bonus) ahead of the midterms. Perhaps the president is thinking ahead to additional future nominations he might get to make, as has been rumored. In that case a solid pick now and an Amy Coney Barrett nomination next time around, after the 2018 midterms, would be an easier road if the Republicans don't lose seats but instead actually pick up seats. President Trump is a scrapper but he's also smart. Why would he take the hard road of nominating Barrett now if it will be easier in a year or two to get her on the court as well?

Given that theory, perhaps the GOP have insights into the coming election that they are just not sharing with the rest of us. Perhaps they are expecting substantial pick-ups in the house and senate.  So there's my two cents on the politics of the pick; it means the GOP are expecting to pick up seats and turn out votes, in part because of this pick and in part indicated by this pick.

How do other's feel about it?  Here's a synopsis of a few liberal responses.

Social conservatives response:

And for a laugh, here's a progressive liberal reaction courtesy of MSNBC and senator Elizabeth Warren:

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