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Two Views: Liberals eager to pounce on Kavanaugh. Or anyone, really

By Ryan Brannan in the Austin-American Statesman

President Donald Trump recently announced his appointment to fill the vacated United States Supreme Court seat: Brett Kavanaugh, a judge who sits on the U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Almost immediately, Outrage, Inc. — left-wing advocates and their allies — fired up their hyperbole machine and argued that Kavanaugh would send us to the end of days. What has been the result of this initial bluster and saber-rattling? Not much. The manufactured character hits have ultimately harmed the left’s credibility and increased support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the United States Supreme Court.

What are these disqualifying revelations that Outrage, Inc. discovered? Apparently, there are three: First, his name is Brett; second, he likes beer; and third, he enjoys baseball. Immediately, upon the announcement of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, NARAL – a pro-choice advocacy organization – tweeted outrage about the Supreme Court being five men, “including some frat-boy named Brett.” Setting aside the hypocrisy of name-shaming from the left, constructive discourse on emotional outbursts is unproductive. Moving on.

In his high-school yearbook, Kavanaugh listed himself — amongst other things, presumably — as the secretary-treasurer of the “Keg City Club – 100 Kegs or Bust.” While the comment shows a lack of maturity, it is not relevant to someone whom, at 53 years of age, wrote it 35 years ago. Next.

The final critique is that Kavanaugh accrued “tens of thousands of dollars of debt” on Nationals baseball tickets “over the last decade.” He then paid off that debt. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently summed up this argument perfectly from the Senate floor: “In a breaking news, bombshell report ... we learned that Judge Kavanaugh enjoys America’s pastime. Investigative reporters scoured his financial disclosures and learned that he and his friends buy tickets to baseball games and that he pays his bills.” McConnell is not a fan of Trump. This faux-outrage forced McConnell to publicly defend the pick, increasing the probability of Senate confirmation.

In perhaps the most egregious example of credibility-killing outrage, the Women’s March put out a news release condemning President Trump’s appointee, forgetting to remove the placeholder for the nominee’s name. The news release condemned Trump’s nomination of “XX,” not Judge Kavanaugh. By doing so, they exposed the fact that the release had been written prior to his nomination, and would have been the exact same regardless of the nominee. This predisposed outrage undermines any argument on the judicial temperament of Kavanaugh and discredits any notion that the outrage was not manufactured.

Now that the dust is beginning to settle following Trump’s announcement, we can look beyond the faux outrage to discover the real Brett Kavanaugh. Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar, in an editorial in the New York Times titled “A Liberal’s Case for Brett Kavanaugh,” says we have learned a lot. Kavanaugh commands wide and deep respect among scholars, lawyers and jurists. Except for Judge Merrick Garland, no one has sent more of his law clerks to clerk for the justices of the Supreme Court — and his clerks have clerked for justices across the ideological spectrum. Amar also explains why terms like “constitutional originalism” should be not be worrisome in this case.

The public’s growing understanding of the character of Kavanaugh has muted the voice of Outrage, Inc. and increased bipartisan support of his confirmation to the Supreme Court. Despite millions of dollars being spent by left-wing advocacy groups to prevent the confirmation of Trump’s appointee, several swing-vote senators, including moderate Republicans and red-state Democrats, have indicated support for the pick. A handful of Democrats in support of Kavanaugh will be more than enough. Although Republicans hold a thin 51-49 lead in the Senate, they only need 50 votes to confirm Kavanaugh.

When left-wing advocates cry foul over minutia, it pushes voters to see past self-serving fundraising efforts and understand the need for a judge like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Maybe if the left would attempt education prior to saber-rattling, rational discourse could again return to the national political sphere. Until then, Republicans will gladly continue accepting the votes from the disenfranchised Democrat electorate — and their senators.

Brannan, an Austin attorney, is principal of the Brannan Firm.



Elizabeth Custy