A Watershed Moment in American History

A Watershed Moment in American History

President Donald Trump’s announcement on Monday night that he would appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court marked the culmination of a decades-long conservative campaign to reshape the federal judiciary . Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, and Anthony Kennedy can no longer disappoint the Republicans who helped place them on the bench. The high court’s future—and the nation’s—is now in the hands of a reliable majority of five conservative justices. “Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,” Trump told a White House audience. Kavanaugh thanked Trump for his decision and pledged his fidelity to the nation’s constitutional order, telling the audience that judges “must interpret the law, not make the law.” There’s always a chance that Kavanaugh’s nomination will fail in the Senate, but the GOP’s majority in the chamber there makes it unlikely. Filling the nation’s courts with conservative justices is a unifying principle for the Republican Party and appears to be the one sacred cow that even Trump won’t slaughter. Democrats, by comparison, have never made the court’s future a make-or-break issue for its base. Trump’s choice of Kavanaugh could change that. In 2005, then-Senator Joe Biden described the process to confirm a potential Supreme Court justice as a “Kabuki dance.” His description is even more apt today. The elaborate theatricality hasn’t changed much in the intervening years: Senate Democrats will once again try their best to get the nominee to share his views on abortion, LGBT […]

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