Film review: Bork to the Future
© Greg Nash

The eerie feeling that you’ve been somewhere, met someone, or experienced something before. Some people call this déjà vu. I call it the Supreme Court confirmation process.

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will convene confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court. This will be my fifteenth—and final—confirmation hearing. Remarkable to me is not how different these hearings are but how much they are all the same.


As the longest-serving member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have witnessed the full-scale devolution of the Supreme Court confirmation process—from the staid and stately event it once was to the partisan parody it has become. In recent years, the political posturing has become especially tedious, with some of my colleagues asking questions that are better suited for final-round interviews at the DNC than a Senate confirmation hearing. For many, it seems a judge’s fidelity to the Constitution matters less than his commitment to the progressive agenda.

In the worst cases, Democrats attempt to parse the nominee’s political leanings by asking how he would rule in hypothetical situations. Suddenly, the hearing is no longer about jurisprudence but partisanship. It stops being an objective assessment of the nominee’s qualifications and becomes an ideological purity test—and that’s when the déjà vu settles in.

The inquisition-like questioning on matters completely unrelated to the individual’s judicial record. The excavation of old writings that have nothing to do with the law. The politically motivated attempts to sully a good man’s name. For Democrats, the playbook for Supreme Court confirmation hearings hasn’t changed in decades.

We’ve seen this movie before—and we’re about to see it again. In fact, there’s a matinee showing this morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Room. It’s called Bork to the Future—a made-for-TV spectacle in which a well-qualified nominee for the Supreme Court faces the same disgraceful treatment from Democrats that a similarly qualified nominee faced more than thirty years ago. To be frank, the acting is abysmal, and the plot, all too predictable. Its one saving grace, however, is the main protagonist, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Even if the movie itself gets two thumbs down, the judge deserves 100 thumbs up.

Here’s what you can expect in this week’s confirmation hearing, from the opening scene to the end credits. (WARNING: spoilers ahead).

The hearing will commence at 9:30 a.m. with opening remarks from each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, beginning with Chairman Grassley. Republican members will highlight Judge Kavanaugh’s sterling credentials: 12 years as a federal judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals; over 300 judicial opinions demonstrating a sound understanding of the Constitution, a dozen of which were adopted by the Supreme Court; prestigious teaching positions at Harvard, Yale and Georgetown; rave reviews from law students of all political stripes. The list of Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications runs longer than a CVS receipt, and Republicans will cover them in full.

Democrats, for their part, will do everything they can to distract from Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications and his obvious fitness for the Supreme Court. Their objective is to paint Dr. Jeykll as Mr. Hyde—to make a monster of a mini-van-driving carpool dad. We can expect from progressives the same apocalyptic prophecies we’ve seen in weeks past: the nominee will bring about the “destruction of the Constitution.” He will “pave the path to tyranny.” If he is confirmed, “People will die.” And then the camera will pan to the baby-faced Kavanaugh, and we will wonder how this war criminal is allowed to roam free.

Democrats know that Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record is beyond reproach, so they will go to egregious lengths to misrepresent it. They will say that Kavanaugh believes the president cannot be indicted—which, of course, he has never said. And then they will accuse Kavanaugh of believing that special counsels are illegitimate—yet another falsehood.

When their attacks on Kavanaugh’s record fall short, as they inevitably will, Democrats will change course by talking about documents. They will complain that not enough documents have been made available to vet Judge Kavanaugh’s background, when in fact, more documents have been made available for this particular nomination than at any time in the history of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Finally, Judge Kavanaugh will have a chance to speak for himself. At this moment, the American people may be surprised to learn that Kavanaugh is not the crypto-fascist Democrats have made him out to be, but in fact, a committed constitutionalist who understands that a judge’s role is to say what the law is, not what he wants it to be. He will present a detailed overview of his background and his judicial philosophy, with a supportive group of family, friends, and former law clerks sitting behind him.

Most striking in this interaction will be how little Judge Kavanaugh resembles the straw man the left has been attacking for weeks. Of course, that won’t be enough to stop my Democrat colleagues from maligning Judge Kavanaugh during the questioning that will take place over the next two days. Ultimately, however, their efforts will fail. No amount of slur or slander can change the fact that Judge Kavanaugh is a decent, honorable man who wants only what is best for our country. 

Not to ruin the ending, but Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed. He will be confirmed because the American people will see through the haze of hyperbole and invective levied against him. He will be confirmed because he is a brilliant jurist who is indisputably qualified for the Supreme Court.

I look forward to shaking Judge Kavanaugh’s hand at the end of the final scene.

Hatch is the senior senator from Utah and a member of the Judiciary Committee.