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Even though Brett Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed to the Supreme Court, while Merrick Garland’s nomination expired alongside the Obama presidency, there’s no question that the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit was treated better than the newest justice has been.
Set aside the debate over whether it was proper for Senate Republicans to hold open the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing, whether norms were broken and institutions sacrificed on the altar of power politics. Nobody’s mind will change on that.
Democrats - Anger - Senate - Majority - Leader
Democrats’ anger at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s tactics is understandable, even if they would’ve done the same thing in his place. But this was a black swan event. The last time the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee of a president of the opposite party to a vacancy arising in a presidential election year was 1888.
Focus instead on how the Senate treated each nominee personally. McConnell announced his “no hearings, no votes” stance within hours of Scalia’s death, without waiting for President Obama to pick a nominee (which didn’t happen for another month). He argued that, since the country was embroiled in a heated election campaign and the next justice could shift the balance of the Supreme Court, the American people should decide who gets to fill that seat—when they chose a new president less than nine months later.
Senators - Garland - Direction - Supreme - Court
Senators made clear, both before and after Garland was formally nominated, that this was about the direction of the Supreme Court, not about any person. There were no charges that Garland was a left-wing firebrand or otherwise unqualified. Indeed, such accusations would’ve been absurd. Nor were there fishing expeditions into Garland’s past, with media leaks to portray any juicy morsel in the most negative light possible.
Contrast that with the trial by ordeal that Kavanaugh endured. While there was gnashing of progressive...
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