Someone asked me my updated opinion about Justice Kavanaugh at the Gibbon football game. So what are my thoughts? Here they are and worth what you paid for them. These come from a number of conversations with my wife and others who have brought up the topic. It should be clear from this that I don’t make a very good partisan.
First, I understand that this is a fight and there are two sides. But it seems to me that Kavanaugh was just a bit different. Where were the accusations when John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch were brought forward as nominees for the Supreme Court? I don’t buy that this was all politics. I think Kavanaugh probably did have drinking and behavior issues in high school and college, and I did not find his testimony on these issues to be forthright or credible.
Second, I am not sure the actions of someone in high school or college should count against them 30 years later. There is no doubt that Kavanaugh is well-qualified by virtue of his education and three decades of work experience for a position on the high court. The accusations were serious, but my understanding is that they would have been misdemeanors if substantiated at the time.
Third, I work in a profession where it could be very difficult to keep or find work with credible allegations outstanding. Local churches do not generally care to employ ministers who are not beyond reproach. This is not the same standard as a trial, “innocent until proven guilty.” A position of importance is not a right, it is a privilege. It is a different standard, that leaders are expected to meet a higher standard so they can do their work with moral authority.
Fourth, the biggest concerns I had regarding Kavanaugh came from his own testimony. I did not see his behavior toward senators as keeping with the temperament of a judge on the highest court in our land. He made a number of statements I felt were clearly partisan and not fitting for a judge. I think he would have been much better off to just plainly state that he drank too much and made mistakes in high school and college. I know I am personally biased about him, because I caught myself listening to him and seeing the same attitude in him that I have seen from other people who come from privileged entitled backgrounds.
I think my bottom line with Kavanaugh is that he will doubtless be a stalwart conservative judge. For some people that will be enough. But I think conservatives could have done better. I was very pleased when John Roberts was nominated. I do not buy that anyone has a right to a seat on the court, and I believe character and temperament and being beyond reproach do matter.
Perhaps I am just an idealist, not a realist. Perhaps the world of blocking Merrick Garland and invoking the “nuclear option” to move Neil Gorsuch forward is just the way things are now. But I believe it is a miscalculation that could greatly harm our country long term for either party to jam through hotly-contested nominees to the court. We would be much better off if the parties take the time and effort to find judges who align with their ideology, but are widely recognized as morally and professionally qualified for their most important role in our nation.
This column is also available in this week’s edition of The Shelton Clipper, which serves Gibbon, Shelton, Wood River, Alda, and Cairo.