The United States Senate today confirmed the elevation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, presently of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, to the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
Kavanaugh wins close vote
The vote in the Senate was 50 to 48, with one abstention and one absence. Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is at this moment enjoying a reception after his daughter’s wedding. A Democratic colleague (not his fellow Montanan, Democrat Jon Tester) withdrew her “no” vote after the roll call. Her act of courtesy made no difference, because Kavanaugh had a majority of votes cast without it.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) had delayed the proceedings for a week, pending a seventh FBI background check on Kavanaugh. Today he voted “Yes.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted “No.” Even before the taking of the vote, two women announced plans to challenge Murkowski in her next primary. They are: former Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) and radio and television commentator Laura Ingraham.
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted “Yes.” In fact she stood in the well of the Senate yesterday and delivered this impassioned defense of Brett Kavanaugh.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted “Yes.” He seems to have followed Senator Collins’ lead in so acting.
The Kavanaugh effect
W. James Antle III, at The Washington Examiner, discussed the dilemma for “red-State Democrats” in the Senate. Vote for Kavanaugh; alienate their donors. Vote against him; alienate their voters.
Joe Manchin seems to have found that decision easy. He has never had a leftist donor base. So only the voters of West Virginia influenced him. In fact he ran for the Senate on a platform of opposition to Barack Obama’s anti-coal policies. His vote today continues his pattern of not voting as a typical Democrat.
But Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) chose to stay with their donor base and not the voters in their States. Now they will have to see whether those donors have the money to overcome voter outrage against them.
Elsewhere in the country, Republican voters have more energy than anyone thought they would have at this time. For that, the Democratic Party and its donor base have only themselves to blame.
But the most important Kavanaugh effect will be on the Supreme Court. He will miss no more Friday Morning Meetings. Court watchers expect him to vote more consistently as a conservative than did Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom he replaces. He will take the oath of office tonight.
Court watchers also will set a death watch on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Her propensity for sleeping on the bench during oral argument, and multiple reports of health issues, will only get more intense attention in the months to come.
One judge doesn’t differ from another, except maybe for the state of their digestion, or their propensity for sleeping on the bench. For myself, I can digest pig iron. And while I might appear to be asleep, I can generally be reawakened, if gently shaken by an attorney with an interesting point of law.1
Can Ruth Bader Ginsberg make the same claim? Some court watchers doubt it.
In any event, two Republican Presidents have now replaced four Reagan appointments and one Nixon appointment with younger Justices. This last fact likely frightens leftist activists most of all. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) vowed, should the Democrats recapture the House, to introduce articles of impeachment against Kavanaugh. But if Republican enthusiasm stays high from now to November 6, that threat will stay empty.
By now an e-mail correspondent has positively identified the Democratic Senator who withdrew her vote to mirror the absence of Senator Daines (see above). Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) did vote “No.” She then withdrew her vote after the clerk finished calling the roll. Did she do so as a courtesy to Senator Daines? Or did she want to appear to do so, to deflect the wrath of Alaska voters? No one can say.
1Attorney Joseph N. Welch, as Judge Weaver, in Anatomy of a Murder. Produced and directed by Otto Preminger. With James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott, Orson Bean, and Joseph N. Welch. Columbia Pictures, 1959.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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