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He's just a political hack, his Democratic opponents say about Brett Kavanaugh. Which is what they were saying about him more than a decade ago when he was seeking a seat on the District of Columbia's circuit court of appeals. Back then his nomination by President George W. Bush was held up for a couple of years until diehard Democrats in the Senate agreed to a deal that let him take his seat on that appellate court. One of those diehards, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, predicts that this "will be a little bit different this time."

It sounds like Senator Leahy is still nursing an old grudge and won't let it go. For there's no loser like a sore one. Republicans can hope that this fight will turn out the same way the old one did--with a victory for their nominee. But that this time he'll win a seat on the highest court in the land.

Once upon that time long ago, Brett Kavanaugh worked with Kenneth Starr and his team to impeach President Bill Clinton, and showed they had every good reason to do so. And later Judge Kavanaugh would work to halt the contentious recount of votes in the presidential election of 2000--and then, after that election, served as an aide to President George W. Bush.

That's how things are done when partisanship moves both parties. And it definitely does. For let's not pretend that decisions of the federal judiciary are brought by constitutional storks. Quite the contrary. It was the country's greatest chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall, who set the example.

"From 2006 to now," asks Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina's sage contribution to the Judiciary Committee, "what kind of judge has [Brett Kavanaugh] been? And answers: "He's been what I thought he would be." Which is a good one.

And what kind of jurist does the senator think his Democratic counterparts believe Judge Kavanaugh has turned out to be? "I bet you that he's been what they thought he would be." Who says committee hearings aren't revealing? Especially when it comes to revealing the power of our own passions and prejudices.

Now get set for a replay of those earlier hearings, only with higher stakes. History doesn't repeat itself, Mark Twain is reputed to have said, but it does rhyme. Senator Charles Grassley, the grand old U.S. senator from the Grand Old Party who represents Iowa, has worked with his Democratic colleague, Dianne Feinstein of California, to draw up a list of bipartisan questions about Judge Kavanaugh's activities during that stage of his political/legal career. What could be fairer?

Democratic senators are warning that a new justice of the country's Supreme Court who would take the place of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy would leave the high court without a swing vote to moderate/blur its opinions on key issues like abortion and the Affordable Care Act that has proven unaffordable. And the Democrats are already demanding copies of the emails, paperwork and work product in general that Brett Kavanaugh produced when he was working for President Bush, which could amount to hundreds of thousands of pages.

Back in 2010, wasn't that the method of operation used by Republicans in the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan? And surely what was sauce for the Republican goose back then is now a fit tactic for the Democratic gander. In the end, a bipartisan group of senators agreed to confirm a number of Bush 41's nominees for the bench. But they retained the right or maybe just the power to filibuster some of those nominations in "extraordinary circumstances." Which is just what they were preparing to do when President Barack Obama chose to nominate his solicitor general Elena Kagan to the high court.

It's a great game at which each of the parties excels and is likely to go on as long as nominations to the Supreme Court of the United States do. It's called politics.


Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Editorial on 07/25/2018

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  • BoudinMan
    July 25, 2018 at 8:27 a.m.

    And yet another repugnant who had the voters duped into believing he was for "traditional family values," has been forced to resign due to some questionable behavior on Sacha Baron Cohen's program. Jason Spencer, who said he did it because he feared for his family's safety, exposed his backside and spewed racial epithets on the program, stated he would resign his seat in the GA state legislature on July 31st due to the abhorrent behavior.

  • mrcharles
    July 25, 2018 at 9:31 a.m.

    B, you have to remember the gop at all levels are easily gullible [ see putin's choir of right wingers], are fearful of commies [ there is not a bed in merica they have not hid under[ , their usual MO is fear therefor hate others, and as to the point in question on family values why that is for preaching while all the time leaching [ or worse, trying to follow the yellow brick road of their book of goatherders pronouncements- kill your children if they back talk, cheat on your wife by divine right and/or kill the child produced from the cheating, but basically the new never changing rule, just leave them to their own devices while you follow the yellow brick road- if they starve , who are you to question the plan you understand to follow but feel it is a mystery as to making sense]

    Ted haggard has just been appointed as ethics advisor to the RNC, and they wanted to appoint Billy Graham and Richard Nixon to the board of chosen people christians who tell them their sins, but unfortunately they are deceased.

    Perhaps this new Judge will by judicial fiat make deities a person like corporations. This will bring up the same problems with them corporation people, in the case of the draft to fight all the wars we intend to teach people a lesson [ we got a lot of catching up to do with all the lessons trump has been privy too]. How do you enforce that rule-- but we sure could use some of them there angels to kick butt against the our former allies, now apparently the enemy, Europe.

  • Packman
    July 25, 2018 at 3:09 p.m.

    Yes, it's called politics. Anyone from my tribe good; anyone from your tribe bad. Pander to the base, objectivity be damned.
    In this instance the politics are simply for show. Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed before the fall court convenes, using the "nuclear" option if necessary. The R's will retain control of the Senate this fall and D's will hold their collective breaths for many months that Mother Nature continues to prop up ancient Ruth Ginsberg and the ailing Sonja Sotomayor. But Mother Nature can only last so long. Look for President Trump to make two more SCOTUS appointments within the next 12 months, at which time the politics will again be only for show.