Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to Twitter to share some rather contradictory advice for his fellow senators the afternoon before President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as his next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Americans see beyond the far-left fear mongering," McConnell wrote before urging all senators to evaluate the eventual Supreme Court nominee "fairly."
There are several things wrong with this statement.
Although the president had not until earlier yesterday released a public shortlist, Kavanaugh was believed to be under consideration along with Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman as a top contender to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose sudden announcement that he would retire from the Supreme Court raised fears that abortion rights (Roe v. Wade) and marriage equality (Obergefell v. Hodges) would be on the chopping block.
Nevertheless, Kennedy’s announcement was lauded by many conservatives who view the Supreme Court opening as an opportunity for President Donald Trump to codify his legislative agenda. Liberal opponents have opposed the nomination, citing a precedent set by McConnell, who infamously refused to hold hearings for Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nomination for the high court. At the time, McConnell claimed that the Senate should not confirm Supreme Court nominees during an election year, though he could cite no rules to support this assertion, and accusations that his decision was informed, at least in part, by racial animus toward Obama have dogged him ever since.
These facts were not lost on many who responded to McConnell's message and charged him with hypocrisy, with some quoting the following tweet, in which McConnell said the American people should have a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court justice before the Senate could start confirmation hearings.
Needless to say, people are angry.
Others have expressed outrage at the notion that a president under federal investigation could nominate someone with the potential to sway the court’s opinion in the event of an indictment.
To that end, it's obvious why the president ultimately picked Kavanaugh, who is perhaps best known for the leading role he played in drafting the Starr report, which advocated for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and whose views about when to impeach a president are likely to become contentious subjects during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Kavanaugh, for his part, has since expressed misgivings about the Starr report; in 2009, he wrote that Clinton should have been spared the investigation, saying that indicting a sitting president “would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national-security crisis.” Writing in the Minnesota Law Review, he suggested that Congress should pass laws that would protect a president from civil and criminal lawsuits until they leave office. He added that there was always a way to remove a “bad-behaving or lawbreaking President.”
“If the president does something dastardly,” he wrote, “the impeachment process is available.”
The president, meanwhile, has taken to tweeting rather proudly of his Supreme Court pick, at one point gloating about Kavaugh's "GREAT" reviews.
Kavanaugh made a name for himself as a member of President George W. Bush’s administration, serving for two years as Senior Associate Counsel and Associate Counsel to the President and as Assistant to the President and as the White House Staff Secretary thereafter. There was some controversy after Bush first nominated Kavanaugh to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Kavanaugh’s nomination stalled in the Senate for three years on charges that he was too partisan. He was eventually sworn in by Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom he had previously clerked, and whose seat he now assumes.
Some senators, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have already indicated they will oppose Kavanaugh's nomination.
Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) was particularly impassioned.
Booker also attended a rally urging Americans to call their senators and demand that they oppose Kavanaugh's nomination.