Cal Thomas: Capitol Hill theatrics

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, September 6th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

Yesterday, I reported on the opening of the confirmation hearing of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court justice. Calling it a hearing is probably generous, because hearing implies listening, and there hasn’t seemed to be much of that.

WORLD Radio commentator Cal Thomas has a different phrase for the proceedings this week of the Senate Judiciary Committee: political theater.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Since Robert Bork’s “borking” 30 years ago, Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for high court justices nominated by Republican presidents have become predictable.

Democrats, who favor a “living Constitution,” meaning whatever they think the founding document ought to say, are pitted against “originalists,” who believe the document speaks for itself and should be taken as something only slightly less compelling than holy writ.

Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing is following the script—with one addition. Democrats, who know they are unlikely to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation, are using it to stimulate their base ahead of the November election.

Time was when a “well qualified” endorsement from the American Bar Association, which Judge Kavanaugh received, was enough to secure most senators’ favorable votes. Not today.

It’s amusing to read and watch how the media have tried to set up the hearings. A New York Times story worries President Trump could “flip” the Supreme Court and slow down or reverse its liberal slide. That’s the point of elections, isn’t it?

If “impeccable” defines anything, it defines Judge Kavanaugh’s record as a jurist. While Democrats and the secular progressives who have recently organized demonstrations against his confirmation will try to paint him as a die hard, right-wing ideologue, his record says otherwise.

Kavanaugh issued more than 300 opinions as a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals, most of which appeared non-controversial at the time. The Supreme Court endorsed his positions in 13 cases appealed to that bench. While Democrats on the Judiciary Committee complain they haven’t received all the documents they wanted—clearly a stall tactic—their staffs have reviewed more documents than any previous nominee to the Supreme Court.

The real focus of the hearing for Democrats will be on social issues and whether Kavanaugh believes all Supreme Court rulings are sacrosanct and must be respected. Primarily that means abortion, same-sex marriage, and the remnants of Obamacare.

Kavanaugh enjoys bipartisan support outside the Senate, but that won’t matter. It’s all about politics now, not the Constitution or the law. Kavanaugh likely will win confirmation, but the behavior of some senators may further sour the public’s view of Washington.

Will the hearings affect voter turnout in November? Pollsters predict doom for Republicans, but their record of failure with past forecasts—note the 2016 election—does not give them much credibility.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) In this Aug. 7, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, officiates at the swearing-in of Judge Britt Grant to take a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta at the U.S. District Courthouse in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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