The Kavanaugh hearings had one big benefit for all Americans

Put simply, the battle over Kavanaugh made clear to all that the Supreme Court is a political institution. It always has been, and it always will be.

This reality often gets lost. We’re distracted by alluring mythologies about justices being nothing more than umpires tasked with calling balls and strikes. We’re scared by dire warnings about how the confirmation hearings are “politicizing” the court, a supposedly new development that we are told is the death knell of the court’s legitimacy.

None of this is true, of course. Constitutional interpretation cannot be reduced to the mechanical application of legal rules. It demands judgment. And the task of constitutional judgment necessarily calls upon not only legal acumen and judicial philosophy but also “political” commitments. These commitments are informed by the same factors that mold everyone’s politics, such as one’s life experiences, one’s understanding of where we have been as a nation, and one’s hopes and fears for where we are going as a nation.