President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE kept another promise Monday evening when he nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the resignation of Anthony Kennedy. So begins the next chapter in the ongoing struggle to define American jurisprudence.
Kavanaugh is a nominee with excellent academic and professional credentials. As a law clerk to three federal judges, including Justice Kennedy, whom he will be replacing, Kavanaugh began his career after graduating from Yale Law School working with some of the leading lights of the judiciary. He learned well. Drawing from his more than 300 opinions as a federal judge on the powerful District of Columbia Circuit, where three of the nine current justices themselves served, the Supreme Court has endorsed his opinions more than a dozen times.
More importantly, Kavanaugh has demonstrated over the years his belief that the proper role of a judge is to interpret and apply the law as written, not legislate from the bench. He once wrote, “The judge’s job is to interpret the law, not to make the law or make policy. So read the words of the statute as written. Read the text of the Constitution as written, mindful of history and tradition. Don’t make up new constitutional rights that are not in the text of the Constitution. Don’t shy away from enforcing constitutional rights that are in the text of the Constitution.”
That, in one paragraph, summarizes the legal philosophy conservatives have been seeking to emplace in the judiciary for decades. That, depressingly but unsurprisingly, mattered not one whit to the protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court. Even before Trump unveiled his choice, hundreds of leftist protesters gathered in front of the Supreme Court to denounce the unnamed nominee. They did not even know who it would be, but that did not prevent them from denouncing the person.
The “attack the judge before we know who it is” tactics were not confined to outside groups. Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior —Pfizer: COVID-19 vaccine safe for young kids White House endorses bill guaranteeing abortion access MORE announced on Monday, hours before the president revealed his choice, that he would oppose the nominee. The playbook of the left is tiresome. Since the president made his announcement, I have been receiving calls, text messages, and emails from grassroots leaders and activists across the country, sharing their excitement at the nomination and asking for guidance on what they could do to help ensure this confirmation.
I shared in their enthusiasm and thanked them for helping make the nomination possible. I reminded them that it was the hard work they did in 2014 when Tea Party activists and supporters all over the country worked to help flip nine seats in the Senate to move it in a more conservative direction, and in 2016 when Tea Party activists and supporters worked to elect Trump in the general election, that was now being paid off.
For several Senate Democrats running for reelection in states Trump won, including Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Biden, Xi talk climate at UN forum Election reform in the states is not all doom and gloom Manchin presses Interior nominee on leasing program review MORE in West Virginia, Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sanders traveling to Iowa, Indiana to pitch Biden's spending package Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE in Indiana, Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampWashington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight Business groups aim to divide Democrats on .5T spending bill MORE in North Dakota, Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect Giuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri MORE in Missouri, Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonElon Musk mocks Biden for ignoring his company's historic space flight How will Biden's Afghanistan debacle impact NASA's Artemis return to the moon? Biden to talk Russia, anti-corruption with Ukraine's president MORE in Florida, and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Senate backers of new voting rights bill push for swift passage The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Polls open in California as Newsom fights for job MORE in Montana, the Kavanaugh nomination forces them to face a perilous decision to ignore their constituents just weeks before the election by voting against Kavanaugh or to enrage their base voters by supporting the White House nominee.
For Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp, each of whom voted last year to confirm Neil Gorsuch, the stakes are particularly high. Having decided to abandon their national base and vote with their constituents instead the first time, does that make it easier or harder for them to do the same a second time? Do they think their vote for Gorsuch affords them a pass so they can vote against Kavanaugh? Or do they believe that casting a vote against the second Trump nominee will make them vulnerable to the charge of flip flopping or having no firmly grounded stances at all?
They will have to make those judgments on their own. Meanwhile, Tea Party activists and supporters will be doing what they do best by working to make sure those senators and others know that they are expected to represent the interests of their constituents, even if that means upsetting their Democratic donors and left wing base. After a couple of days to celebrate the nomination of a thought leader who could help lock in a conservative Supreme Court majority for the next generation, it will be back to organizing, calling, emailing, tweeting, and contacting our senators to ensure that confirmation. This is how a real playbook works.
Jenny Beth Martin is president of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.