Today’s Must Read: Adam Liptak, “A Bitter Nominee, Questions of Neutrality, and a Damaged Supreme Court”

Adam in the NYT:

His performance on Thursday, responding to accusations of sexual misconduct at a hearing of the same Senate committee, sent a different message. Judge Kavanaugh was angry and emotional, embracing the language of slashing partisanship. His demeanor raised questions about his neutrality and temperament and whether the already fragile reputation of the Supreme Court as an institution devoted to law rather than politics would be threatened if he is confirmed

“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” he said, “fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”

In a sharp break with decorum, Judge Kavanaugh responded to questions about his drinking from two Democratic senators — Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — with questions of his own about theirs. He later apologized to Ms. Klobuchar….

Chief Justice Roberts spoke in the wake of a series of confirmation hearings tinged with partisanship but nothing like the all-out war the American public saw on Thursday. If the chief justice feared that the court’s reputation could be damaged by them, he has reason to be terrified now.

“We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans,” he said in the 2016 remarks, “and I think it’s a very unfortunate impression the public might get from the confirmation process.”

As it happens, a reliable way to predict how justices will vote in highly charged cases is to check the political party of the president who appointed them. There was one exception to that rule in recent decades: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy could be unpredictable.

My only quibble here is with the use of the word “decades.”  Souter and Stevens, for example, also did not follow what would become the Republican party line.

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