He resembles Roberts in some respects. He is comfortably ensconced within the Republican establishment, specifically its Washington, D.C., division. The resemblance in affect was noted before, when Kavanaugh was up for confirmation to his current job. The Washington Post reported in 2006 that Kavanaugh “is widely described as brilliant, affable and disarming, attributes that prevented Democrats from successfully demonizing Roberts.”

After watching Roberts in action, though, Kavanaugh’s Republican-approved smoothness reads to the left like a stealthy way for a right-wing ideologue to get his way. And to portions of the right it seems like a sign that he won’t be a reliable ally when the chips are down.

While Trump was selecting a nominee to replace the retiring Anthony Kennedy and conservatives debated the possibilities, they scoured Kavanaugh’s records looking for evidence of this weakness. They found some rulings that concerned them — but they read them as critically as they did because they came to them with the fear of “another John Roberts.”