Now that we’ve established — at least in my humble view — that the U.S. Supreme Court has become the third political branch of government, it’s worth examining briefly the cache that the court’s newest member brings to his post.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh has none. Zero, man!
Is that important, given that he is now charged with interpreting the constitutionality of federal law? Yep. It is. Why? Because the new justice takes office by the thinnest of political margins.
The U.S. Senate voted today 50-48 to confirm him. The previous narrowest confirmation belonged to Justice Clarence Thomas, who was approved 52-48 in 1991. Move over, Justice Thomas. There’s a new Bottom Dog in town.
I will acknowledge that at least the confirmation vote for Justice Kavanaugh wasn’t an entirely partisan affair; Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin voted with the majority to confirm Kavanaugh, and no doubt all but sealed his re-election to the Senate from West Virginia, a state that Donald Trump carried by more than 41 percentage points in 2016 over Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Kavanaugh has pledged to rule with impartiality and independence. He did so in an op-ed piece written for the Washington Post. It was a remarkable pledge, given his fiery — and highly partisan — rebuttal to the criticism that exploded in the wake of the sexual assault allegation leveled against him by Christine Blasey Ford.
This justice takes his lifetime appointment seat amid continuing question and a good bit of recrimination over the manner in which the Senate shoved his confirmation across the finish line.
I now am going to rely on my limitless optimism that Justice Kavanaugh will deliver on his promise to be independent and impartial as he takes on the huge challenges of constitutional interpretation.
Don’t mess up, Mr. Justice.