It's the Constitution, Not Brett Kavanaugh Liberals Don't Like, Conservatives Say
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It's the Constitution, Not Brett Kavanaugh Liberals Don't Like, Conservatives Say


Each week, USA TODAY's OnPolitics blog takes a look at how media from the left and the right reacted to a political news story, giving liberals and conservatives a peek into the other's media bubble.

This week, political pundits were divided over Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. 

Conservatives argued that Democrats were prepared to oppose anyone Trump nominated but that Kavanaugh is such a strong nominee that their efforts to block him are certain to fail. 

Liberals said Kavanaugh would shift the court sharply to the right and that he would ensure a vote in Trump's favor if issues tied to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation ever came before the Supreme Court. 

Conservative bubble: Democrats fear the Constitution, not Kavanaugh

"Most Democrats were going to get hysterical about any pick, because any conservative pick was going to take the Constitution far too literally for their liking," said The Federalist's David Harsanyi. 

"For those who rely on the administrative state and coercion as a policy tool – forcing people to join political organizations, forcing them to support abortion, forcing them to subsidize socially progressive sacraments, forcing them to create products that undermine their faith, and so on – that’s a big problem," he said.

It seems to me that with another originalist justice we inch closer to a time when the majority of the Left will simply dismiss the court as an antiquated impediment to progress. 

Liberal bubble: Kavanaugh could provide cover for Trump

"We have never had a nominee who was chosen by a president identified as the subject of a criminal inquiry," and therefore Kavanaugh must indicate how he would rule on questions of executive authority and the Mueller investigation, wrote Caroline Fredrickson, the president of the American Constitution Society, and Norman L. Eisen, the Chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, in a New York Times op-ed. 

If he refuses to share them, Judge Kavanaugh must agree that if he is confirmed he will recuse himself from any decisions concerning the special counsel investigation and the related exercise of presidential powers – or his confirmation must be delayed until after the investigations are resolved. If the Senate confirms him without resolving these questions, we face the prospect of a new associate justice who poses a grave danger to the legitimacy of the court – and our democratic system of checks and balances.

Conservative bubble: Charges of partisanship won't stick 

"Backed by an activist-fueled propaganda machine," Senate Democrats are about to "unleash relentless personal attacks" on Kavanaugh, said David B. Rivkin Jr. and Andrew M. Grossman in The Wall Street Journal. 

But the attacks "should be unavailing" Rivkin and Grossman said, calling Kavanaugh: "A champion of the Constitution’s structural safeguards against overweening government." 

"The Democrats’ formulaic charges of partisanship won’t stick" because he is committed to constitutional "textualism" as evidenced by a track record of frequently ruling against the government "across three successive administrations," the legal experts wrote.

Liberal bubble: 'Kavanaugh could drastically shift the court to the right'

Kavanaugh's nomination comes at a "tense moment," said The Washington Post Editorial Board. 

"It could drastically shift the court’s tenuous ideological balance, and it comes not long after Senate Republicans disgracefully blocked President Barack Obama from making a court pick in his final year," said the Times' board. "More than ever, the court is in danger of becoming viewed as an instrument of politics rather than an independent, nonpartisan branch of government."

Trump "ignores traditional boundaries on presidential action and the Republican Party mostly enables his autocratic instincts," the board said. But, "Republicans should not duck their responsibility to bring a critical eye to the coming confirmation process." 

Conservative bubble: Fear mongering reaches new levels

Since Kavanaugh was named as Trump's nominee the oppostion from liberals "has only become increasingly hostile and emotional," wrote Katie Pavlich for The Hill. "In the aftermath of an official announcement, the fear mongering has been ratcheted up to new levels, complete with accusations of millions of lives being threatened if Kavanaugh is confirmed."

Politically, opposing Kavanaugh for the sake of the resistance is the wrong fight for Democrats to take on before the 2018 midterm elections. Conservatives and Republicans are mobilized in far greater numbers than Democrats on this issue. President Trump nominated Kavanaugh because he qualified to sit on America’s highest court. His 300 opinions over the past 12 years prove it and Democrats would serve the country well by focusing on substance, rather than emotion, as we move forward with the confirmation process.

Liberal bubble: Supreme Court may finally become a driving issue for Democrats

It is unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate will fail to confirm Kavanaugh because "filling the nation’s courts with conservative justices is a unifying principle for the Republican Party and appears to be the one sacred cow that even Trump won’t slaughter," said The New Republic's Matt Ford. 

But Ford is optimistic that Kavanaugh's confirmation could finally make the Supreme Court a major issue for the Democratic base: 

The conservative movement’s push to remake the courts since the 1970s and 1980s ultimately sprang from the Warren Court’s spree of liberal decisions in the 1950s and 1960s. Now that conservatives firmly control the court’s direction, their rulings may prompt a similar pushback from liberals in the years to come. Monday’s announcement may ultimately mark not just the culmination of one campaign for control of the nation’s judiciary, but the beginning of another.

Author: USA Today