The ugliness displayed by the media and Democrats during the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is yet another indicator of how far we have come from Hamilton’s conception of the federal judiciary as “the least dangerous branch.”
Kavanaugh was nominated to replace Anthony Kennedy, who used his perch on the Court to uphold Roe v. Wade and to expand its theoretical underpinnings in Planned Parenthood v. Casey; to strike down a referendum prohibiting the granting of special rights to gays in Romer v. Evans; to overturn all state laws against sodomy and to reverse Supreme Court precedent upholding such laws in Lawrence v. Texas; and finally to require all states to recognize gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, thereby upending a consensus on the nature of marriage that had been shared by all the world’s great cultures and that had endured for millennia. Kennedy’s decisions in these cases exhibited no regard for democracy, tradition, or precedent and advanced a social revolution cherished by the contemporary left. Many on the left perceived Kavanaugh as likely to trim the power the Court had claimed in advancing this social revolution, and perhaps even to threaten the social revolution itself.
As a result, the opposition to Kava naugh was intense from the moment President Trump announced the nomination. The nomination hearings began with shrieking feminist protestors trying to disrupt the proceedings and soon became so undignified that even Ruth Bader Ginsburg felt compelled to comment. And that was before the media became aware of Christine Blasey Ford, who had let her Democratic representative know of her claim that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at some time during the 1980’s. Ford’s allegations, which became public only after it appeared that Kavanaugh’s confirmation was all but assured, turned a confirmation process that had been unseemly into a veritable circus, with Ford’s unsubstantiated claim against Kavanaugh followed by an accusation by a Yale classmate that was so weak that the New York Times declined to publish it, and then by a fantastic claim that the teenaged Kavanaugh was a regular participant at parties where teenaged girls were drugged and raped.
Even though Kavanaugh had a distinguished record of public service going back decades, without even a hint of sexual impropriety, the American left insisted that these unproven allegations needed to be believed, since women never lie about such things, and turned Kavanaugh into a figure of hate. A USA Today sports writer argued that Kavanaugh should no longer be allowed to coach CYO girls’ basketball, and numerous media figures assailed Kavanaugh for being white and male, with the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart writing a column titled “Hell hath no fury like an entitled white man denied”; The New Yorker’s Lauren Collins writing an article whose title branded Kavanaugh a “white jock” and which argued that he was “exploiting the American patriarchal fallacy that competitiveness is tantamount to character”; Rolling Stone’s Jamil Smith writing that Kavanaugh was exhibiting “the fury of a privileged man denied” and putting on “a master class in Trumpian masculinity”; and many media outlets quoting with approval activist Emma Gonzalez’s characterization of Kavanaugh as a “privileged white boy who’s spent his whole life overdrinking.”
The left’s willingness to destroy Kava naugh to preserve its power and its open disdain for white men confirmed what readers of Chronicles already know about the reality of contemporary American politics, but the nature of the attacks on Kava naugh troubled such past deniers of political reality as NeverTrumpers Rod Dreher, David French, and Rich Lowry. After all, the core belief of the NeverTrump movement was that Trump was far worse than anything the left was likely to do. After the attack on Kavanaugh, though, Lowry wrote that “the dark view of our politics that has driven the Trump phenomenon for three years now is impossible to gainsay. Who can watch the frenzied assault on Brett Kavanaugh and say that it’s wrong?”
The irony is that, if the vicious attacks on Kavanaugh fail to keep Kavanaugh off the Court, they may well help to create the type of Supreme Court Justice the left fears most. Anita Hill likely guaranteed that Clarence Thomas would never “grow” in office, the way too many Republican appointees have. Christine Blasey Ford has already prompted Kavanaugh to fight back, as shown by his magnificent opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford has also likely made Kavanaugh indifferent about his reputation among Washington elites. Such indifference does not guarantee that any Justice will vote to overturn Roe, but it is difficult to imagine any Justice voting to overturn Roe unless he has acquired such an indifference. We may end up owing Christine Blasey Ford a debt of gratitude after all.