OPINION: A dish served cold
“When you see Sotomayor and Kagan, tell them that Lindsey said hello.”
That was South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham to then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh back in 2018 as he wrapped up an epic rant as chair of the Judiciary Committee excoriating Democrats for their disgusting smear campaign intended to derail Kavanaugh’s ascent from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The unforgivable attacks on Kavanaugh were the culmination of more than 30 years of Democrats shredding the judicial appointment process beginning with the assault on Robert Bork in 1987 so notorious that “Borking” became a verb when it was turned against Clarence Thomas just four years later.
Thomas, vilified by the left to this day in the worst racial terms, called it a “high tech lynching” to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee back then who just happened to be current Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Once they found themselves in the Senate minority under President George W. Bush in 2001, Democrats broke new ground on upending Senate traditions by filibustering D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Miguel Estrada.
No appellate court nominee had ever been successfully filibustered before and Estrada eventually withdrew his name after years of failed cloture votes that drew as many as 55 votes, five shy of the 60 needed.
Leaked memos revealed that one of the reasons certain Democrat groups opposed Estrada was to prevent a conservative from being the first Hispanic to make the Supreme Court.
Minority Democrats would go on to filibuster nine more Bush nominees, leading to the first talk of employing the “nuclear option” to eliminate the tactic in favor of a simple majority vote.
That was averted with the “Gang of 14” deal, but because the Democrats had successfully blocked so many Bush nominees to the D.C. court, President Barack Obama took the step in 2013 of nominating three judges at once to what by all measures was the least-worked panel in the country and while other courts had what were classified as “emergency” vacancies to which he hadn’t nominated anyone.
The Republicans’ attempts to block Obama’s power move using the same tactics pioneered by the Democrats led then-Senate President Harry Reid to nuke the filibuster for all judicial nominees below the Supreme Court level in a vote that then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted the Democrats would regret “a lot sooner than you think.”
There can be no question that Democrats regret it now, whether they will admit it or not.
Republicans took over the Senate in 2014 and were therefore able to thwart Obama’s pick to flip the court with Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia in 2016.
McConnell kept his promise to make the Democrats rue their 2013 actions after Donald Trump won the presidential election by eliminating the filibuster to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Democrats protested, but replacing Scalia with Gorsuch did not change the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court.
That was not the case with Kavanaugh when he was tapped to replace the long-tenured “swing vote” Anthony Kennedy and what followed was the most shameless attempt at character assassination in the history of judicial nominees even when compared against what was done to Thomas.
It worked on Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who cited Kavanaugh’s temperament in voting “present” after his righteous display of anger at being labeled a gang rapist by Murkowski’s Democrat colleagues.
Murkowski has unsurprisingly come out against the idea of replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election, but that doesn’t mean she has committed to actually voting against the eventual nominee.
Although she may appear bulletproof after winning as a write-in candidate in 2010 and cruising in 2016, even the proudly independent Murkowski may have to consider the fallout from siding against two consecutive conservative nominees to the Supreme Court.
The Democrats retook the House in 2018, but saw their numbers in the Senate shrink after the self-destructive Kavanaugh display as they marched red state Democrats off the cliff in North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Florida.
They made the Supreme Court a focus of the midterm campaign, and American voters responded by preventing them from taking over the Senate and denying them the power to stop Trump from replacing RBG in 2020.
The Democrats’ willingness to spare no tactic in their quest for power has stiffened the spines of even once squishy Republicans like Graham and now Sen. Mitt Romney to respond in kind and yet within the confines of the powers defined in the Constitution.
Contrast that with the summer we’ve just seen of Democrat voters — egged on, excused and enabled by their elected leaders — destroying American cities and causing losses totaling billions of dollars in human and economic costs.
“Boy, y’all want power,” Graham told Democrats in 2018. “God, I hope you never get it.”
From Bork to Kavanaugh and from Portland to New York, and from threats to add Supreme Court justices, add states and kill the legislative filibuster, the Democrats have shown and told us everything we need to know about how they wield power, and why we should hope they have no more.
So to Trump’s eventual nominee: Say hello to Kavanaugh for me.
Andrew Jensen can be reached at [email protected].