Once one buys into a conspiracy theory everything makes sense because everything can be explained in terms of the conspiracy.
Thus, it is with President Trump’s selection of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court seat of the retiring Anthony Kennedy. Mr. Trump’s enemies on the left were mobilized to oppose anyone he might have selected because whoever it was going to be will change the balance on the court.
But it didn’t take long for leading Democrats to conclude that Judge Kavanaugh was chosen not because he believes in actually looking to the words of the Founders in deciding cases but as part of what they see as the president’s ongoing campaign to avoid the justice they would mete out to a deplorable agent of the Kremlin who conspired with his puppet masters in Moscow to steal the U.S. presidency from their candidate in 2016.
Millions of voters told pollsters following the 2016 election that they voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton because of their very different views of the role of the Supreme Court, views that were readily apparent during as the two sparred during the pre-election debates. Mrs. Clinton made it clear that she saw the court as a sort of super-legislature while candidate Trump focused on his desire to appoint judges who would apply the U.S. Constitution as written to the cases that come before the court.
As president, Mr. Trump has done as promised. That has certainly been true of his judicial appointments. Conservatives who celebrated the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to fill the Scalia seat, have been overjoyed at the bulk of his lower court appointments and have hailed the selection of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat of retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Although the media’s current obsession with the Helsinki Summit pushed the upcoming battle over whether Judge Kavanaugh will spend the rest of his career as Justice Kavanaugh, Democrats seem prepared to double down on the charge that Mr. Trump cares not a whit for the Constitution but is counting on his pick to protect him from the long arm of the law.
Underneath it all, however, is the liberal or progressive view of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court. They, like Mrs. Clinton, judge Supreme Court justices not on whether they are knowledgeable and dedicated constitutionalists, but on whether they agree with them on substantive issues. They want a court that will stand with them on abortion, Obamacare, guns and Donald Trump and can find a way to justify their policy positions regardless of whether they comport with the requirements of a constitution that is pretty clear about what powers the government can exercise and how it must go about doing so.
Brett Kavanaugh, like Antonin Scalia, Neil Gorsuch and others on the court actually believe the words of the U.S. Constitution matter. That alone, in the eyes of today’s progressives disqualifies Judge Kavanaugh as it would anyone else unwilling to sign onto their policy agenda.
But they are convinced that everything the president does has something to do with Russia. It follows logically in their minds that Mr. Trump chose Brett Kavanaugh because of an article Judge Kavanaugh wrote back in 2009 for the Minnesota Law Review arguing that based on the turmoil of the Clinton years in which he played a part, he believes that it might be a good idea to exempt future presidents from the possibility of prosecution or criminal investigation while they are in office. Judge Kavanaugh based his argument in part on his belief that Mr. Clinton might have better handled some of the challenges he and every president must face had he not been distracted by the Whitewater investigation.
Democrats at first considered the article a “smoking gun” and believed they could use it to take down the appointee and bludgeon the president in the process, but upon actually reading it discovered that Judge Kavanaugh wasn’t arguing that a president is exempt from prosecution, but that Congress might consider making legislation shielding him until he or she leaves office; a far different thing than arguing the Constitution itself prohibits going after a president while in office.
That is hardly likely to stop them distorting his thinking and writings again and again as the Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation approaches, It’s what they do to please a radical base that keeps demanding Democrats in the Senate parrot arguments based not on reality, but on the conspiracy theories that dominate the fever swamps of the left.
• David A. Keene is an editor at large for The Washington Times.
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