Kavanaugh may be on the court for many years, during which time perceptions could change. But it will be difficult him to escape the shadow of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation.
Even more important than Kavanaugh’s future is that of the Supreme Court as an institution. Public approval of the court has bounced back from previous events that many pundits thought would generate a devastating backlash. Perhaps history will repeat itself.
But the deeply divisive Kavanaugh confirmation comes on the heels of other developments that have generated immense anger among Democrats, most notably the GOP’s refusal to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. Even before the Ford accusation, some progressives advocated radical measures to retake control of the Supreme Court, such as “court packing.” These ideas are likely to gain momentum now.
In my view, court-packing would be a dangerous escalation of the judicial nomination wars, one that could destroy judicial review as an effective check on government power.