The Supreme Court confirmation process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh has run its course. No one should be surprised that the process was brutal and injected with hyper-partisan furor over wrongs of the past. Kavanaugh walked into a political buzz saw, and the results were predictably gory.
The question now is whether his own bitterness over this process has rendered him too biased and anxious for revenge to be regarded as an objective arbiter from the bench. His remarks in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Friday outline what he sees as the boundaries of judicial decorum and temperament:
"I do not decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge. I am not a pro-prosecution or pro-defense judge. I am a pro-law judge," he wrote. "The Supreme Court must never be viewed as a partisan institution. The justices do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle. They do not caucus in separate rooms."
But by his own acknowledgement, Kavanaugh stepped over the line in his Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on Sept. 27. He reacted emotionally to allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school. Kavanaugh lashed out in an overtly partisan way when his checkered past came under scrutiny.
"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election," he stated. As if to refute Ford's allegations, he suggested the "hit" was motivated by "revenge on behalf of the Clintons" funded by "millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups."
Then came this ominous remark: "And as we all know, in the United States political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around." He might have been saying that Ford's allegations were the result of Democrats' political payback for past wrongs inflicted by Republicans. Or he might have been suggesting that, if confirmed, he would exact his revenge from the bench.
Any implication that he could use his judicial role as a weapon is abhorrent on its face, regardless of the provocation. It should have been disqualifying.
Kavanaugh acknowledged in his op-ed that he "might have been too emotional at times ... and I said a few things I should not have said." That's the understatement of the year.
Of deeper concern are the repeated statements by then-candidate Trump in 2016 that he would only select Supreme Court nominees willing to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling affirming abortion rights. According to Trump's criteria, Kavanaugh comes pre-decided on the abortion question. When asked to clarify during testimony, Kavanaugh would not.
What's done is done. But as Kavanaugh ominously observed, what goes around comes around. The political buzz saw whirs away, awaiting the victims to come.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH