The most arresting sentence in the letter comes near the end: “People will die if he is confirmed.” They will? Should it be necessary to point out to the Yale grads that people—in fact, everybody—will die even if Kavanaugh is not confirmed? Human mortality should be a settled issue by now. Perhaps the signers meant that more people will die if Kavanaugh is confirmed. But that can’t be right: There can’t be more people than everybody. Maybe they mean people will die in different ways if Kavanaugh is confirmed. It’s hard to see how he’d manage to arrange this, even from the Supreme Court, and anyway, dead is dead. Obviously these guys went to law school, not medical school.
But! Let me be clear, as President Obama liked to say. The Yale letter is not worthless. It serves as a kind of preview of the coming weeks, as the opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination unfolds. We can expect more anguished cries, more scolding. The closest the letter gets to making an argument is to offer tendentious summaries of some of Kavanaugh’s opinions, as lawyer and judge. Soon these cases will be as familiar as a Beatles tune. There’s the Obamacare contraception mandate that Kavanaugh opposed, the young immigrant whose abortion was postponed, his opposition to net neutrality on First Amendment grounds, his approval of prayer at “open public school events in brazen contravention of our country’s separation of church and state.”