Michael Barone: The Kavanaugh confirmation Kabuki

Michael Barone: The Kavanaugh confirmation Kabuki

by Michael Barone  | July 12, 2018 12:00 AM

Theater, much like Japan's Kabuki. That’s all the Supreme Court confirmation process is. President Trump’s presentations of his two nominees, Judge Neil Gorsuch last year and Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Monday, were uncharacteristically graceful — a worthy theatrical innovation, in the view of even some Trump critics.

Now, we get to watch television clips of Kavanaugh’s visits to senators’ offices — where he’ll likely never return to after the play-acting is over — with cordial words from Republicans who are certain to vote for him, and maybe even from Democrats certain to vote against.

Then, there will be hearings before the Judiciary Committee, presided over by the folksy but canny Chairman Chuck Grassley. The ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, may be a bit restrained by her earlier imposition of what sounded like a constitutionally prohibited religious test for office on another judge on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist.

This process is ostensibly to enable senators to make informed decisions. But Kavanaugh is certain to invoke the 1993 precedent set by his D.C. Circuit predecessor Ruth Bader Ginsburg in refusing to say how she’d vote in any case.

Sure, everybody knows judges shouldn’t make decisions off the tops of their heads. But everyone also knows that they have to deny ammunition to the other side. Judge Robert Bork in 1987 did the opposite, unfortunately for his nomination. Supreme Court nominees for years have been very smart people, able to deftly avoid this mistake.

Of course, everyone knows the outcome of the play, as they do when they go see "Hamlet." Praise from liberal legal scholars Akhil Reed Amar and Benjamin Wittes won’t make any difference in the outcome. Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed, with all Republican and perhaps a few Democratic votes.

Curiously, our constitutional republic managed to get along for 127 years without Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominees, and for the next 61, many justices were confirmed after perfunctory hearings or none at all. Today, ever since the hearings on Bork and Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, the confirmation process has been just theater.  Continue reading at  Washington Examiner  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/michael-baron...

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