“I intend to carefully consider that rating…”
Reuters/Joshua Roberts/File Photo; Mark Wilson/Staff
Since there are 51 Republicans and only a majority of the Senate is needed for confirmation, the only thing that could sink the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is if two Republicans oppose it.
And the pair that conservatives and the White House are most concerned about, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), issued statements Monday night that should provide a sense of comfort.
I’m no expert on legal matters. And I’m not an attorney, and I have the bank account to prove it. But I do know how to read the tea leaves in Washington.
This is Collins’ statement:
Judge Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and extensive experience, having served more than a decade on the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
I will conduct a careful, thorough vetting of the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as I have done with the five previous Supreme Court Justices whom I have considered. I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to questioning him in a meeting in my office.
There are no hints of concern, which she could have added. And Collins, who comes from a family of politicians and is a swamp creature in pretty good standing, noted Kavanaugh’s “impressive credentials and extensive experience.” That is, he’s been hanging around the swamp for quite some time. So that looks pretty good to her.
To be nicer about it, Collins has vast experience and respects others who do as well. As long as Kavanaugh pledges strongly to consider “precedent,” which she says is her key concern — and a way for her to at least say she believes he won’t overturn Roe v. Wade — she may well back him. And Kavanaugh is likely going to talk about precedent during his hearings as if it was his favorite uncle.
Here is most of the statement from Murkowski:
I intend to review Judge Kavanaugh’s decisions on the bench and writings off the bench, and pay careful attention to his responses to questions posed by my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Judiciary will also review Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications prior to these hearings and issue a rating. I intend to carefully consider that rating, the information obtained through personal meetings, my own review of Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications and record, and the views of Alaskans in determining whether or not to support him.
Again, no hint of anything negative. And note two things here. First, like Collins, Murkowski is emphasizing Kavanaugh’s qualifications since she suggests she’ll give strong weight to the opinion of the American Bar Association (ABA), which reviews whether he’s fit to serve.
The ABA has rated the last six nominees, including Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch “well qualified.” There’s no doubt it will do the same for Kavanaugh since it’s pretty clear the one thing everyone agrees on is that the veteran judge and Ivy League grad is well-qualified.
Second, she also points to the opinion of Alaskans. It’s hard to imagine that people in this heavily Republican state will oppose a mainstream conservative justice.
It will be a rocky road and a pitched battle. But by choosing someone who has worked for years in the swamp — as a judge in Washington, a Bush administration official, and a member of Ken Starr’s Whitewater investigative team — and who yet still seems quite conservative, Trump appears to have made a choice that will be approved by the Senate while also galvanizing his conservative base.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.