Preferring verbal felicity to practical wisdom, a character in a Benjamin Disraeli novel quipped, “A majority is always the best repartee.” Not really. Open societies that want to remain so should prefer persuasion to raw power, even the power of majorities. Which is why Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) served the nation, its highest tribunal, constitutional morality and even his ungrateful party by not being a team player.
A minority of Americans are perpetually infuriated, and the Republican portion of that minority is furious with Flake because he used his leverage in a closely divided Senate to compel the FBI investigation of accusations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. Do enraged Republicans think the national interest, or even their party’s interest, would have been well-served if, with the embers still smoldering from Christine Blasey Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s testimonies, Senate Republicans had used their legislative muscle to shove Kavanaugh’s confirmation to completion by now?
In that case, Justice Kavanaugh — 20 percent of a majority on a court often divided 5 to 4 on contentious matters — would have served under a cloud of the suspicion that he got there only because his party would not countenance a reasonable delay that would enable the FBI to seek pertinent information. But how much of a delay is reasonable partly depends on what information is deemed pertinent.