The merits of Brett Kavanaugh as a Republican nominee are clear, as are the reasons why Democrats fear his confirmation. As a conservative judge in the mold of the late Antoni Scalia, he would likely undermine union power, Civil Rights era voting protections, and Roe v. Wade.
Kavanaugh’s background as a White House lawyer has been the source of much contention, as Democrats of all stripes have advocated for the release of hundreds of thousands of documents relating to that moment in his career. Republicans have denounced this as a delaying tactic, and I won’t contest that it is just that. Democrats are fighting what is almost certain to be a losing battle and they’re using any tool they can reach to give themselves a fighting chance.
Despite the partisan origins of the outcry, these documents are vital to the public interest. In elections, every part of a candidate’s history is put on public display, picked over, and examined by voters and the press; it follows that a higher level of scrutiny is in order for an appointment that, rather than lasting two, four, or eight years, lasts a lifetime. The amount of documents needing close examination is daunting, but it is the responsibility of every member of the Senate, whether they be Democrats or Republicans, to ensure that Judge Kavanaugh is the right man for the job.
This particular seat is vital because it could shift the ideological tenor of the Supreme Court for years to come. With the addition of Justice Gorsuch in 2017, the court is on the verge of becoming the most conservative it’s been in generations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has fervently defended Kavanaugh, admonishing Democrats to “put partisanship aside and consider his legal qualifications with all the fairness, respect, and seriousness that a Supreme Court nomination ought to command.”
This fairness and respect were sorely lacking, however, when Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the seat that Justice Gorsuch now fills. After Garland’s nomination, McConnell revealed his true nature as a rank partisan, not only refusing to meet with Garland, but declaring that the Republican dominated Senate would not hold hearings for him at all, on
the principle that “the American people [should] decide” who would fill the seat. Ignoring the fact that the American people had, in fact, decided that Barack Obama should be the man responsible for choosing Supreme Court nominees when they elected him in 2012, this is still blatant hypocrisy. It is once again an election year: if Mitch McConnell was genuinely concerned about the voice of the American people being expressed in this process, why is he going forward with these hearings?
Kavanaugh is a candidate worth consideration, but partisanship is preventing the American people from receiving a fair account of his past actions, present thoughts, and future rulings. This in-depth review is imperative if Senate Democrats are to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. And though it may be a losing battle, it’s one Democrats shouldn’t stop fighting.
Madeline Hedrick is a senior studying English and the president of College Democrats.