A freight train is roaring through the U.S. Capitol, and Democrats are screaming at the conductor, flinging themselves onto the tracks, and desperately trying to stop it. It’s happening in the confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
From the moment he settled in to face members of the Senate, the Dems have raged that they have not had enough access to his records, not enough time to scrutinize 42,000 documents released just hours earlier, and frankly, not enough freedom to pound away at the man. Protesters are making noise too, repeatedly shouting down GOP defenders of the process and the nominee.
They have good reason to be upset. Donald Trump has been fast-tracking conservative judges into lower courts at a breakneck pace. He’s already seated one Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, and if Kavanaugh is confirmed, he could tip the highest court toward the conservative side for a generation. That could bode ill for many causes Democrats hold dear: tax and wage reforms, union influence, minority and abortion rights, and much more. Simply put, they fear Kavanaugh would join the court not as a fair-minded jurist, but primarily as a Trump apologist and conservative ideologue capable of derailing any hopes they have for holding Trump accountable for any possible offense.
“These are unprecedented times,” Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris said to Kavanaugh. “I’m concerned your loyalty would be to the president who appointed you and not the Constitution of the United States!”
In a measure of the bitterness, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham shot back that Democratic presidents have selected partisan nominees too. “This is shaping up to be the hypocrisy hearing,” he said, “and that’s hard to do in the Senate.”
And as much as the Dems may be right to fight against Kavanaugh with everything they can, he’s right about that. Sure, Kavanaugh says he’s all about the law. And maybe there was a time when Supreme Court nominees were chosen mainly for their legal knowledge, their commitment to justice over partisanship, and with little regard for their political views. But with due respect to Kavanaugh and all the other nominees in recent years, that train has left the station.