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Kavanaugh And Consequences



To my fellow Democrats, regarding Brett Kavanaugh:


Politicians and talking heads alike never fail to remind me that he's up for a lifetime appointment. Of course he is, just like the 113 Supreme Court Justices preceding him, including Sotomayor and Kagan. This is not a new thing and is not a unique feature of the Trump administration.


Is he going to roll back Roe v. Wade? Good chance, yeah. Not singlehandedly, though. He'll need at least four others to help him out with that. I think the main issue here is that he's far more conservative than Kennedy was even on his first day back in the Reagan administration (Kennedy having moved significantly to the left over the course of his tenure).  His record shows him to be about as conservative as Thomas.


Possibly he believes that a sitting President can pardon themselves (an idea Nixon discussed, but found absurd). Possibly he believes that a sitting President is ineligible to receive an indictment or subpoena. I'm bringing popcorn to the oral arguments on that one. I can't wait to hear Republican attorneys explain to me how they were so wrong regarding Clinton in the late 90s.


Referring to Justices Ginsburg and Breyer in the early days of the Clinton administration, John McCain said, "Under our Constitution, it's the President's call to make." I know, the poor guy just passed, and Democrats are tripping over themselves to name-drop him.  I voted for him in two primaries and have no regrets.  He said that because the Senate can't pick Justices (the legal term is "nominate"). Only the President. Even Presidents you don't like. The Senate's job here is not to determine whether they agree with the nominee on various issues. Their job is to verify the nominee's experience and credentials so that we don't end up with, for example, Associate Justice Betsy DeVos. I'm forced to admit that Kavanaugh's resume is satisfactory. We must prove to the political cynics and independents that Democrats truly are different from Republicans. I submit that we could start by not acting like Mitch McConnell. Whether it's an election year, whether the last election went a way I personally like, these have no bearing on the matter. I require my Supreme Court to function at capacity every year, not just the odd-numbered ones when a Democrat is in the White House.


So is Kavanaugh going to side with me on any of the major opinions he will face?  No, I don't think he will.  Should the Senate confirm him anyway?  Probably, yes.  At least he's qualified, a property so rare among Trump's nominees for office.  If Kavanaugh isn't confirmed, the Heritage Foundation will just move down one line on the list of picks they assign to Trump to nominate.  Senate Democrats can possibly drag this out past the election and hope for the best, but they can't possibly drag it out past 2020 and have any reasonable chance of retaining their seats.


I retain few truisms from my childhood Sunday School lessons, but this little nugget has stuck with me. When you point your finger at someone, you're pointing three at yourself.


This business with Garland, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh - I don't like it one bit. It's easy to blame Republicans for it. It's perhaps not a huge stretch to blame some Democrats. But I remember that I failed to vote for anything or anyone in 2010 and 2014. I have excuses for that aplenty, but they will always remain mere excuses. When McConnell took point on Garland in 2016, he was successful only because he was the leader of the Senate's majority party. And his being in the majority in 2016 is at least slightly my fault, whether through action or inaction. If Roe v. Wade is overturned or curtailed with the help of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, I will owe an apology to every woman who seeks, and is denied, her right to choose. And Republicans say we Democrats have no sense of personal responsibility...


Bottom line for me, elections matter.  Not because we were told so in civics class or because we think the cynics are wrong.  They matter because they have consequences.  I didn't vote in 2014. A mere 18 months later McConnell is breaking my Supreme Court.  I have lots of people I can blame, but only one I could have made choose differently.


In politics, I have come to realise that there is no such thing as yesterday. There is only today and tomorrow. We can't go back to 2014 and vote differently (or at all, in my case). We can't un-elect Trump. We can't confirm Garland. We can't un-nominate Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.  And there is also no such thing as inaction.  I was an unwitting accomplice in installing Republican majorities in Congress during the Obama administration.


Maybe you, like me, don't like the way this is shaping up. Maybe you, like me, regret the choices you made in 2014 that were essential to getting us here. We can't change our mistakes of the past. But we can certainly not repeat them in the future. This means voting in every election and researching your voting choices to exhaustion. Republicans certainly do (the voting part - I can't speak to the researching part). Build your world or someone else will build it for you.


See you on November 6.


Mike Fitton


Update 9/14/18


Yeah, I retract my support for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.  How poorly timed was that?  Another political Clarence Thomas is acceptable.  Another assaultist Clarence Thomas is not.