There were shouts, there were pleas and there was Sen. Chuck Grassley reservedly tapping his gavel in an attempt to maintain order. I'm talking, of course, about the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
There's apparently millions of documents to potentially review. Democrats are mad they didn't get the papers to review sooner, and Republicans are mad because they say the Democrats are simply trying to stall — and frankly, that does seems to be the case. I very much understand stalling can be a useful tactic in politics — of course, when it's done on the Senate floor, we call it a filibuster — but it's still annoying.
We Americans are very much about instant gratification. From our easy mac (because cooking it out of the box was too time consuming) to our Supreme Court justices, we want it now. It seems the days of good things taking time are behind us, and the phrases "measure twice cut once" or "look before you leap" have lost their luster. We want to be seen as the embodiment of the American spirit — the cowboy. Taking action. Going with our gut. Shooting first and asking questions later. Git 'er dun (disclaimer: Larry the Cable Guy has never claimed to be the embodiment of the American spirit…but he probably should have). We "measure twice and cut once" because "waste not want not." I'm done with the potent quotables, I promise. What I'm saying is there's a process to things for a reason, even the Kavanaugh hearings.
The problem is we're afraid. Some are afraid Kavanaugh will get on the court and walk back certain liberties. Others are afraid fringe elements will take liberty too far if he's not put on the bench. To tell you the truth, I'm not all that afraid in this case, and I'll tell you why.
From my admittedly limited observations, judges on all levels know how to color inside the lines. They can color it red and they can color it blue, but they always have to be in the lines. Just like I can't put something in print unless I have something to back it up, judges and justices can't just make a decision because they feel it should be so.
Case in point — Justice Neil Gorsuch. He was President Trump's pick for the Supreme Court after Justice Antonin Scalia died. Just like they are now, some people were afraid what a Republican president's conservative justice pick would do to the high court. Others were afraid what keeping him off would look like for the country.
Then came the case of Sessions v. Dimaya. The headlines from Fox News to Politico were essentially the same thing come this past April 17. A "conservative" justice sided with the "liberals" on a decision about the deportation of immigrants. And his reasoning was that the vague language of the law couldn't be strictly interpreted. More over, he cited several legal examples in his written opinion which show he is not acting simply based on his own feelings.
"I cannot see why we should single out for special treatment when, again, so many civil laws today impose so many similarly severe sanctions," Gorsuch wrote. "Why, for example, would due process require Congress to speak more clearly when it seeks to deport a lawfully resident alien than when it wishes to subject a citizen to indefinite civil commitment, strip him of a business license essential to his family’s living, or confiscate his home? I can think of no good answer."
In short, judges have to justify their opinions with legal precedents. They don't just bow to the wishes of the president who appointed them. They may personally stand on one side of the party line, but professionally they are not even on the field. So, I expect Kavanaugh to do the same as Gorsuch. If he's confirmed, he'll have to demonstrate how his decisions are in line with previous legal findings and not just his own gut.
Like I said, I'm not really worried Kavanaugh would somehow single-handedly throw out Roe v. Wade or something. If Gorsuch can go against the opinion of the president who put him in place, I'm sure Kavanaugh can do the same.