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Just Shut Up About Brett Kavanaugh Already

Republicans are taking out old resentments on Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson

Have you ever been in a job interview where the employer just keeps making weird, forced, hostile references to someone they hired several years ago? 

Of course not. There is virtually no reason for this to ever occur, and if it did, you’d probably withdraw your application in hopes of working elsewhere. But the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees are, unfortunately, a little different. So Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s pick to fill Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat, is enduring a lot of hot air about Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh, you may recall, had a rocky road to SCOTUS as he sought to defend himself against an accusation of sexual assault from Christine Blasey Ford. In response to her searing testimony, he lied, he wept, he raged — and, in the end, was promoted to the highest court in the land. It was a victory for President Trump, who had nominated and fiercely supported him through the process, as well as Republicans in the Senate, who unanimously voted to confirm along with a lone Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin. But the GOP still acts like Kavanaugh was run out of town on a rail, a noble martyr of their cause, with everything taken from him. Not true! He’s very much around, not to mention more powerful! And itching to roll back abortion rights!         

To hear the way Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are talking to Jackson this week, you’d think Kavanaugh was the last person under review for this gig. Did they possibly forget Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who in 2020 was nominated to the Supreme Court and confirmed within a month despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic? Because I’m fairly confident she also didn’t face cross-examination about alcohol intake or alleged sexual misconduct. Those issues came up at Kavanaugh’s hearings because of who he is and the life he has led — they weren’t magically conjured out of the ether by a Democratic Party unable to block his confirmation in any case. If it were a merely hyperpartisan tactic, Barrett would have received similar treatment. She didn’t.   

This whining despite Kavanaugh’s lofty and secure-for-life position speaks to a lingering resentment that he was embarrassed. That liberals went through his dirty laundry and flung it all over Congress in a desperate bid to destroy his character. But nothing could have discredited Kavanaugh more than his own histrionic performance, which drew harsh criticism from every quarter. Thousands of law professors signed an open letter saying he didn’t have the right temperament to serve on the court. The National Council of Churches — on behalf of some 40 million congregants — called for the withdrawal of his nomination. Even his college drinking pals wrote in the Washington Post that he had lied to the Senate while under oath. When a man’s oldest friends are saying he’s a piece of shit, you can drop the “innocent victim” narrative.

This fresh indignation, the recycling of 2018 in 2022, is a sign that Republicans don’t have much substance to press Jackson on. She’ll be joining Barrett and Kavanaugh on the bench, and these little jabs won’t impede that, nor are they really supposed to. It’s far easier to rack up a few pity points with your base by recalling how everyone was too mean to the last white guy, a classic example of how white men as a group are persecuted and demonized — according to a bunch of white dudes in federal government, anyway. 

I’d tell them to save their breath for some relevant questions of Jackson, though if they’d rather kiss Kavanaugh’s ass, it’s a three-minute walk from the Capitol to the place where he works. I’m sure he’ll hitch up that robe for you.