All of which is to say that the interesting questions about Kavanaugh and the politics of the legislative branch will be answered next year after Democrats (presumably) take back the House. There is every reason to think that Trump’s judicial nominee will be impeached, like the man himself, though not successfully removed from office, barring a Democratic takeover of the Senate that looks as unlikely now as it did two months ago. The last time a Supreme Court justice was impeached was in 1805, when, at the instigation of Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Chase and other Federalist Party appointees were accused of allowing their decisions to be affected by partisan considerations. Chase was not removed from office by the Senate, and he remained on the bench for another six years, until his death in 1811. Nowadays it is expected that justices will carry out the political agenda of those who appoint them. This is why their nominations have become the most contentious feature of American politics. An impeached Kavanaugh will be a moral victory for Democrats and another occasion for donor emails, but nothing else.

It is nice to think that we live in interesting times, that the mentally and spiritually taxing business of calmly responding to over-the-top responses to faithless accusations of feigned partisan outrage is on the verge of giving way to a new era of moral clarity. But the recent significant changes in American politics — the weakening of the legislature, the widespread loss of faith in institutions, the erosion of the post-war consensus about the necessity of a welfare state and a quasi-planned economy — have been slow to come. One vote will not alter the course of our national life.