Of the three branches of government, the judiciary is the least democratic and the most esteemed. But it is in danger of becoming no different than the other two. Judicial confirmations are increasingly conducted like political campaigns, with bus tours, TV ads, and TV interviews. Whereas Congress and the presidency derive their legitimacy from elections, judicial legitimacy stems from its prestige. Perceptions of its impartiality and fairness are its validation. “The Supreme Court must never be viewed as a partisan institution,” Kavanaugh himself said (at his first hearing).
If Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will be viewed as a partisan, celebrated by conservatives, derided by liberals, and regarded with suspicion by everyone else. This may be unfair to Kavanaugh, but public service often is.
Kavanaugh doesn’t have to be a sexual predator or an alcoholic to disqualify him from the Supreme Court. He just has to be less than impeccable. In the past week, he has proven to be disappointingly human. He is partisan, contemptuous of his critics, self-righteous, prevaricating, ill-tempered, and ridden with personal ambition.
He’s in the wrong branch of government.