WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans may well confirm Brett Kavanaugh this weekend. The price of locking in a conservative Supreme Court majority for decades may be loosing control of Congress this November.
Kavanaugh’s chances improved Thursday in the wake of an FBI report on sexual misconduct allegations against him deemed thorough by Republicans Senate leaders and incomplete by Democrats.
The reopened Kavanaugh background probe was too limited. Republicans did not want to pursue whether Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his alcohol use in high school and college.
The FBI didn’t even use the entire week it was allotted. Potential witnesses who wanted to talk to the FBI about Kavanaugh were not contacted. The FBI interviewed only 10 people.
Senators, first Republicans, then Democrats, filed into a secure room in the Capitol Visitor Center to read a shared solo copy of the FBI report.
Even though the report is not public, if there was a bombshell revelation in it about Kavanaugh, the Democrats would have said so.
Emboldened, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Thursday a procedural vote on Kavanaugh will be held on Friday with a final vote as soon as Saturday. Senators will have up to 30 hours to debate.
The entire exercise of having the FBI reopen the Kavanaugh background probe for a week was to satisfy three key undecided GOP Senators, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Republicans hold 51 of the 100 Senate seats. The only non-committed Democrat as of Thursday afternoon is Sen. Joe Manchin, up for re-election in red state West Virginia.
Vice President Pence holds the tie-breaker vote. Depending on Manchin, McConnell can afford only one or two GOP defections.
Confirming Kavanaugh before the midterms will help fire up President Donald Trump’s base in turf that is solid Republican. That’s a reason why Manchin, in a battle, has parked himself on the Kavanaugh fence for now.
The Kavanaugh impact is much bigger for Democrats and can boost turnout in states with swing Senate and House seats in play.
In Illinois and other states, Democratic primary turnout surged. Democrats started mobilizing after the shell shock of Trump’s election wore off. Look at the Women’s Marches of 2017 and 2018.
Add to that the emergence of the Democratic-leaning #MeToo movement. And now, just weeks before the midterm elections Kavanaugh is accused of sexual misconduct in high school and college.
McConnell has little choice but to push ahead with Kavanaugh. With the midterms approaching, there was no time to jettison him and find another nominee.
McConnell has to get Kavanaugh confirmed as soon as possible because the GOP with a tiny majority, may lose control of the Senate in a few weeks — a long shot, but now not out of the question.
Over in the House, Democrats are positioned to hold the seats they have and flip the 24 GOP-held seats needed to seize control of the House.
McConnell has been consumed with giving conservatives a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court that will endure for decades.
McConnell constantly complains about Democratic “obstruction” to Kavanaugh. He said from the Senate floor on Thursday, “We have a chance to do good here and underscore the basic tenant of fairness in our country.”
Fairness? McConnell is a hypocrite.
McConnell was so intent on that 5-4 goal that he blocked former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
Judge Merrick Garland, raised in north suburban Lincolnwood, never even got a hearing in McConnell’s Senate.
Retired Justice Stevens nixes Kavanaugh
A Chicago native, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Thursday said that Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee last week convinced him that Kavanaugh should not be on the Supreme Court.
The Palm Beach Post reported that Stevens, speaking in Florida, said that he initially supported Kavanaugh’s nomination and changed his mind. Stevens was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, a Republican.
“At that time, I thought [Kavanaugh] had the qualifications for the Supreme Court should he be selected,” Stevens said. “I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability … I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.”