Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Nice Guy

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate doesn’t think that just because you’re a nice guy qualifies you to be on the Supreme Court.

Niceness is nice. I’d even go so far as to venture that niceness is very, very nice. But it’s not the basis from which to offer someone lifetime tenure on the highest court in the land. And I am still waiting for the Republican appellate lawyers, D.C. lobbyists, and operatives to stand up and tell us how “nice” Judge Garland was. Because I would submit that he was just about equal in “niceness” to Kavanaugh, and yet it mattered not one bit to anyone two years ago, since at that time, niceness was irrelevant. At the very least, then, we should be able to agree that if Garland’s kindness to small animals and assorted D.C. charities was immaterial in 2016, Kavanaugh’s warmth of character should not be an issue in 2018.


Ask any law clerk at the Supreme Court to name the warmest, kindest justice on the bench and they will tell you Clarence Thomas is that guy. Every time. That’s not nothing, but it isn’t anything close to everything. Being lovely to people around you isn’t a proxy for judicial ideology and methodology. Let’s please respect Kavanaugh enough to stop talking about his mad carpooling skills. It’s insulting to him as well as to the rest of us. He is being elevated to a lofty office. Let’s take a page from the Supreme Court and start appreciating the enormity of that office itself. The state of Brett Kavanaugh’s niceness is not a constitutional question.

This is a preemptive to the line we’re going to hear from Republicans who want to prevent any chance that Mr. Kavanaugh will be Borked.  “You shouldn’t do that because he’s such a nice guy!”  And there will be concern trolling from some Democrats who are worried that when it’s their turn to nominate someone to the court, they’ll get Borked in return.  News flash: Merritt Garland.  He got stealth-Borked by Mitch McConnell, and the question of his niceness never came up.  And neither did his chance to get on the court.