There is an old rule that the perfect political speech is one that does not lose you any votes.
By that standard, despite interruptions by protesters and heated arguments, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has delivered a perfect performance before the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee.
He should be confirmed by the full Senate to the seat on the Supreme Court being vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Democratic senators on the panel aren’t likely to vote for him, but they weren’t likely to anyway, and the judge — a highly qualified nominee from President Donald Trump — said little that Republicans can object to.
Of course, he tried to say as little as possible to anyone: That is the new standard for presidential nominees, avoiding any controversy.
In the case of judges, and particularly potential justices of the highest court in the land, it makes sense for nominees to avoid speculating on cases they might or might not see before them. But in today’s partisan and hyper-tweeted political environment, there is self-preservation in obscure answers.
For Kavanaugh, though, having a long record in public life and having served on the District of Columbia appeals court — commonly a stepping stone to the highest court — his record is plain and very conservative. Like Justice Neil Gorsuch, the president’s previous nomination, Kavanaugh is certain to reflect a more right-ward tilt than Kennedy, a nominee of President Reagan.
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, and the protesters who have disrupted the proceedings, have little chance of derailing this nomination. Although there are some pro-choice senators left in the GOP, and the chamber is essentially Republican by only a hair, the likelihood is that Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
Shouldn’t he be? We think so. Deciding a nomination shouldn’t involve a nakedly partisan vote. A president has a right to make an appointment that is more or less consistent with the administration’s views.
Judges sometimes disappoint their sponsors, of course, but the politics tainting the process is bad for the courts and bad for the country.
Is Kavanaugh’s record perfect? Like many others, we cringe as we read the young lawyer’s recommendations for clinical detail in the investigation of President Clinton’s adulterous affair. Bill Clinton ruined the life of the young lady in question, but Kavanaugh and his colleagues also ought to reflect on their responsibility with regret.
Since then, though, Kavanaugh has served in the George W. Bush administration and on the D.C. circuit. He has drawn some support from liberal legal scholars, as well.
As president, Donald Trump has sometimes disappointed us with erratic decisions and poor appointments. Kavanaugh’s is not one of them. While liberals may not like him, the fact is that the president has sent up a qualified nominee for the high court.