Will the conservative legal establishment play ball?

The judicial status quo enormously favors conservatives. Even should Democrats win big in November, it will take many years for them to catch up to the huge Republican lead in judicial appointments. By then, who knows, the GOP may have retaken the Senate, and of course it may well find a way to hold on in 2020.

But a last-minute overreach by McConnell could seem so illegitimate to Democrats as to justify radical countermoves should they win in November: increasing the number of appellate judges and Supreme Court justices; conceivably even opening impeachment hearings against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

McConnell may want the win badly enough to dismiss those risks. But many conservative-leaning lawyers in the country may be more cautious. And their voices will get a hearing in a contentious nomination fight—not only by the national media, but by some of the less Trump-y Republican senators. This could be enough to slow down a process that has no time to spare.