Kavanaugh Has Already Failed the Test of Temperament
(The Bloomberg View) -- Getting to the truth of the allegations of sexual abuse brought against Brett Kavanaugh might never be possible. Careful investigation is warranted, but even the fullest inquiries might leave doubt. Even so, this doesn’t mean the Senate has no basis for ruling on his appointment to the Supreme Court. Wherever the truth lies, Kavanaugh’s testimony last week revealed a temperament that makes him unsuited for the position.
Senators have gone to lengths to point out that the nomination process is a job interview. They’re right — and, as one of nine lifetime spots atop one of only three branches of government, the position should go to someone remarkable. In a nation of 325-plus million souls and well over a million lawyers, there should be more than a few viable candidates.
Consider the two Kavanaughs that have appeared before the nation. The first, in an initial and relatively congenial hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, was calm and thoughtful. Despite stretches of evasiveness, it was possible to take him at his word. The Supreme Court “must never be viewed as a partisan institution,” he said. A good judge must be “a neutral and impartial arbiter” — an “umpire.” Listeners had good reason to believe him, even if they disagreed with his judicial philosophy.
Then, last week, before the same senators, a different Kavanaugh appeared. “This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” the nominee said in an effort to refute allegations against him raised by Christine Blasey Ford and others. The charges were without merit, he said, “fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”
Kavanaugh’s view of the situation had a particularly ominous cast — more Biblical than juridical. His foes had “sowed the wind for decades to come,” he said. “I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwinds.” He added: “What goes around comes around.”
The path that led Kavanaugh back to the judiciary committee has doubtless been agony for him and his family. Nonetheless, he chose anger and confrontation in response. He could have pleaded his innocence while at the same time urging an investigation. He could have chosen not to resort to partisanship. He could have made clear, as a candidate for the Supreme Court, that justice shouldn’t be rushed and cannot submit to the legislative calendar. He could have set an example for how a remarkable person — one fitted for this highest office — might behave under pressure and when facing what he sees as injustice.
Sadly, he took another course.
A Supreme Court justice should hold America to its highest Constitutional ideals, not reflect its darkest moods. Last week, Kavanaugh gave the Senate sufficient reason to deny him the job.
Editorials are written by the Bloomberg View editorial board.
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