Among institutionalists, in turn, we should prefer someone who is primarily a judicial conservative over a social conservative. Everyone on the list is both, to some degree. Still, there are some whose allegiance to the Federalist Society agenda is largely about social issues such as abortion. This seems to be the far-right’s beef with Kavanaugh; his judicial views may be unimpeachable, but he has demonstrated insufficient personal antipathy to abortion, gays and other perceived social evils.

If we’ve winnowed the list to judicial conservatives, the country and court are better served by a judicial restraint conservative — one who’d emphasize the need for caution in overturning precedent — rather than what we might call a lost Constitution conservative. This latter group believes that the court went deeply wrong sometime in the 1960s or before, issuing scores of rulings that in their eyes are liberal and activist. This identifiable cadre seeks to turn back the clock. Many of them admire the jurisprudence of Justice Clarence Thomas, who has called for the demolition of a series of bedrock constitutional doctrines from the last 70 years.