No topic has been more contentious nor, I would say, damaging during the life of this site than the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Many people who were not fans of Trump viewed his nomination as the potential shift of the court, and when Trump nominated a “conservative”, they were willing to forgive him his many failures and potentially criminal actions if he would deliver on the one thing which could most directly set the country back toward founding principles.
The Democrats announced they would attack any nominee of Trump, and when they predictably did so it was expected by some that TNB would, if not defend Trump, at least defend a conservative judge who just happened to be nominated by him. After all, Gorsuch has panned out as a relatively solid choice in most matters.
Instead, not a single writer here was in favor of Kavanaugh. There was Steve, who disliked his temperament. Many others found Dr. Ford’s accusation of attempted rape (if not the others who conveniently followed suit with far less plausible tales) to be believable. I felt that his judicial philosophy was inconsistent and he would be nothing more than a Trump sock puppet.
The lack of even a single voice actively supporting the future Justice drove away some of our readers. It was easy to see how some would believe we had become nothing more than allies of the Democrats – particularly as some of the regulars have announced their desire to see the Republican party go down in flames, while voicing no similar desire for the Democrats.
That, to me, was this site’s primary lesson from Kavanaugh: work to acknowledge opposing voices during sensitive issues. We were not going to have someone pretend to a position they didn’t hold… we’re all believers in honesty and fairly opinionated, or we wouldn’t be writing… but I, for one, failed when I did not publicly recognize the internal conficts which were tearing at some of those who were seeing one of their great desires – an originalist Supreme Court – being given to them by a man they had spent years deriding.
Yesterday Brett Kavanaugh faced his first test as a Supreme Court Justice, and in the eyes of many self-described conservatives, he failed it. As the Daily Caller described it in a headline, “Kavanaugh joins Liberals to protect pro-Planned Parenthood ruling”.
This result stunned many. Kavanaugh is a Catholic and was to be the swing vote in ending Roe v. Wade; to have him as the deciding vote to mandate federal funding of Planned Parenthood is a very strong signal that he will never attempt to end Roe v. Wade.
Here’s the second lesson of Kavanaugh, this one for those who believed he was a pro-life fighter: think for yourself.
The only evidence that Kavanaugh was a firm pro-life advocate came from his religious affiliation… and there is little indication he has ever taken the tenets of Catholicism seriously. The belief that he is a deeply moral person came purely from the narrative spun about him by pro-Republican media.
Pro-Republican media was going to beatify him. This was the other side of the coin from the fact, acknowledged by virtually all self-described conservatives, that the Democrats and pro-Democrat media were going to attack him. Guided by their desires and their confirmation bias, people accepted the analysis being provided by “friendly” sources rather than consider the situation for themselves.
I was unsurprised by the Kavanaugh decision yesterday. Recall, my primary objection to Kavanaugh is that he has no strong judicial philosophy and was seated primarily to echo President Trump’s positions.
Trump has spoken on behalf of pro-life issues, but he has continued to sign budgets which fund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. He was not only pro-choice, but accepting of late term abortions for most of his life. It is not an issue he seems to care about. Extrapolating from that, I had serious doubts that it would be an issue Justice Kavanaugh would care about.
Kavanaugh will have further tests ahead of him. If someone attempts to revisit the Kelo decision, I expect him to support the government’s inherent authorization to seize privately held land. If someone attempts to hold the President accountable for illegal actions, or raises issues about President Trump’s authority, I expect him to find in favor of Trump. Beyond that, I expect him to issue the same center-leaning-left rulings he’s always produced.
I have attempted to learn my lesson from Kavanaugh’s hearings. I will attempt to give stronger voice to a counterpoint if both sides of a position can be reasonably interpreted. I hope that the Trump supporters accept their lesson as well, and learn not to follow Republican media any more than they follow Democrat media. All media is biased. It is the job of every adult to distinguish between fact and opinion, and to consider the merit of an opinion rather than to simply follow.