It goes without saying that Democrats and their activist groups would oppose anyone nominated by Donald Trump for the Supreme Court. It goes so far without saying it that some groups didn’t bother to even fully update their outrage templates before transmitting their opposition to Brett Kavanaugh. For instance, Democracy for America clearly anticipated that Amy Coney Barrett would get the nod and simply substituted Kavanaugh … without checking the pronouns:
Somebody rushed this out! pic.twitter.com/ZRFqFi0ON0
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) July 10, 2018
That’s still better than the Women’s March, whose PR people forgot to substitute a name at “XX” and then misspelled Kavanaugh’s name in the same release (via Twitchy):
Everyone needs a copy editor, example number 4,732 pic.twitter.com/8wS3WmBi1i
— Jason Seher (@jhseher) July 10, 2018
The reaction by Senate Democrats will almost certainly be just as pro forma, thanks to a toxic environment that has brewed in the upper chamber since Robert Bork’s confirmation hearing and has grown steadily worse on both sides of the aisle since. However, that toxic stew has produced at least one silver lining for Republicans, which is that Democrats can’t do much to stop ‘XX,’ as Roll Call notes this morning. About the best they can do is slow things down:
Democrats can make as much noise as they want about President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, but they have few procedural weapons at their disposal to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation on their own — although they can make life difficult along the way.
One strategy for the Senate Democrats may be to create as much time as possible between Monday night’s announcement and the Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings. …
Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa has the discretion to schedule a series of hearings on Trump’s nominee. Democrats can press Grassley to delay hearings so members of the panel can review all documents related to the confirmation.
One quirk of the Senate’s rules that might come into play is that it requires permission of all senators in order for committees to meet for longer than two hours after the Senate convenes.
Hearings for Supreme Court nominees run much longer than that, so any one Democrat could object for committees to meet beyond the customary two-hour start. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky would then need to start manipulating the chamber schedule to accommodate the long hearings.
That’s a double-edged sword for Democrats, however. The closer the confirmation comes to the midterms, the better it becomes for Republicans to use it to gin up voter enthusiasm — especially if it drags out over procedural obstructions. If they hold it up long enough so that it’s not done before the vote, Trump voters will be infuriated, and highly motivated to kick out Senate Democrats, and House Democrats right along with them.
Just how badly might this backfire? A new poll from Tarrance Group shows the risk in five key races, via my friend and colleague Guy Benson:
Those wide margins call into question whether Democrats can actually succeed in obstruction tactics at all. They’d need all of their members to stop showing up to deprive McConnell of a quorum for floor and committee business. What would voters in Florida think if Bill Nelson had to be arrested to do his job, or voters in Missouri if Claire McCaskill had to be carried feet first into the chamber — as Robert Byrd once ordered Bob Packwood to be returned? They’d better not count on a gender gap to see them through, either:
While there is a gender gap, women across all five states remain at 53% “yes,” while fully 65% of men agree. While the response is more polarized by partisanship, voters who identify or are registered as independents hold at 59% “yes.” Similarly, a 55% majority of self-described “moderate” voters agree their Senator should confirm President Trump’s pick.
In other words, obstructionism is a loser in precisely the states where Democrats are the most vulnerable. It’s also meaningless unless a Republican defects from confirmation, and that seems less than likely — and obstruction might make it even more likely that the GOP will circle the wagons around Trump and Kavanaugh. The end result might well be confirmation, followed by 55 or 56 votes in the GOP caucus for the next Supreme Court nomination, a number that might make Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski less critical for success.
Bet on a quick confirmation, and perhaps on 55 votes for it. Ed Whelan sets the over-under on timing:
Look for Senate confirmation of Kavanaugh by Friday, September 21.
— Ed Whelan (@EdWhelanEPPC) July 10, 2018
I’ll take the over, but not by much. Democrats need this off the table as fast as possible to remove a big turnout motivator for the GOP.