As we noted over the weekend, the deed is done and Judge Brett Kavanaugh is now Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But those who so bitterly opposed his confirmation clearly have not given up the fight. Some of them are already talking about impeaching the new member of the court, but to pull that off they would need an electoral victory beyond a blue wave. It would take a tsunami capable of sinking Atlantis.
There’s a more subtle effort underway this week and it involves attempts to essentially delegitimize Kavanaugh. The Hill checked in with a few “legal experts” in the field and found some who were willing to say that Brett Kavanaugh is irreparably damaged coming out of the confirmation battle and will forever be viewed as the “angry judge” with an ax to grind… just like Clarence Thomas.
The Senate fight over Brett Kavanaugh is finally over, but legal experts say the bruising confirmation battle could have a lasting effect on his Supreme Court career and the public’s perception of him…
“Some judges can’t shake the asterisk,” said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University professor of law and an opinion contributor to The Hill. “Thomas hasn’t and I don’t think Kavanaugh will. It’ll be part of the indelible record of his career.”
Turley said Kavanaugh will likely carry resentment over the confirmation process.
“The anger you saw in the confirmation hearing was honest and, to a degree, understandable,” he said. “I think anyone would carry a lasting sense of injury and a degree of resentment over how he was treated. I think that’s human.”
To provide some support for this theory, one of the analysts they spoke with quoted Associate Justice Clarence Thomas from his 2007 memoir “My Grandfather’s Son.” In it, Thomas describes those coming after him during his confirmation as “a mob” (sounding familiar yet?) who did not bring ropes or guns, but rather, “smooth-tongued lies spoken into microphones and printed on the front pages of America’s newspapers.”
Near the end of the book, Thomas writes, ” Mere confirmation, even to the Supreme Court, seemed pitifully small compensation for what had been done to me.”
There’s absolutely no evidence offered that any lingering resentment Clarence Thomas may have over his treatment during confirmation has impacted any of his votes or colored his decisions. But that doesn’t matter to Kavanaugh’s detractors. For them, he’s simply the next generation represented by Thomas.
But let’s pause for a moment and consider what that “asterisk” next to Thomas’ name actually means. I can sum it up for you in one word: nothing. Zip, zero, nada. Are Thomas’ votes in Supreme Court decisions measured as counting for less than one each? (Dare I say… two thirds?) No, they are not. Are decisions where he’s taken part in a 5-4 split somehow less final in the nation’s system of laws? Nope. He’s been on the bench and voting for just shy of 27 years, and each and every one of those votes was recorded just the same as those cast by every other member of the court.
Barring a complete breakdown of our political ecosystem or some shocking new revelation involving provable illegal conduct, Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court to stay. And at the age of 53, barring any tragic health issues and with the grace of God, he’ll likely be there for the next quarter of a century or more. Those camping out on the steps of the Supreme Court and rending their garments in grief should probably come to terms with the idea.