Don’t Forget Kavanaugh’s First Hearing

the questions raised about Judge Kavanaugh in his first hearing will be submerged by the onrushing tide of scandal, as they were for Justice Thomas.

.. I do think it’s unfortunate that the cynicism and racial politics that infused the nomination of the underqualified 43-year-old Judge Thomas to a lifetime position in the seat once held by Thurgood Marshall has been erased from public memory.

.. It matters that the man President Bush called “the best man for the job on the merits” was unwilling or unable under the senators’ questioning to deviate an inch from his prepared talking points; that although he was a sitting federal appeals court judge (albeit for only 18 months) his knowledge of recent Supreme Court decisions was shaky at best; or that he made the implausible claim that he had never expressed a view, even in conversation, about Roe v. Wade, a precedent that he then voted, in dissent, to repudiate when the opportunity arose during his first year on the Supreme Court bench.

.. who would turn the constitutional clock back to the 18th century if he ever found four colleagues to agree with him, distanced himself during his confirmation hearing from the extreme conservative views he had spent years espousing in speeches. Those were, he claimed, nothing more than the musings of a “part-time political theorist.” Pressed to explain his position that there was a “natural law” higher than the Constitution, he uttered perhaps the most candid line of the entire proceeding: “I certainly never thought I’d be having this discussion.”

.. What were those earlier vulnerabilities? His work for the George W. Bush White House, many details of which have never been fully disclosed. His willingness last year, as a judge, to delay an undocumented teenager’s access to an abortion to which she was legally entitled, along with the not inconsiderable prospect that he would provide the long-awaited fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. More fundamentally, there is the weighty argument that a president who may not have been legitimately elected, and who had already filled a Supreme Court seat that everyone knows was President Barack Obama’s to fill, had not earned the right to project onto the court a minority constitutional vision and lock it in place, probably for decades.