One would hope that rational people would have had their fill of the national embarrassment produced by the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process. Instead, a majority of Americans have a feevah and the only cure is more Kavanaughcalypse. According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll, 53% want Congress to continue investigating the newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, despite the fact that weeks of investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the FBI turned up bupkis:
Led by discontent among women, Americans by a 51-41 percent margin disapprove of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court -– and a majority favors further investigation by Congress that could lead to efforts to remove him from office.
Fifty-three percent of Americans support such an investigation, while 43 percent opposed. The gender gap is wide: Men divide on the question by 47-49 percent, support-oppose. Women, by contrast, support a congressional probe by 58-37 percent.
Basically, nearly everyone who opposed Kavanaugh wants to continue investigating him, and vice versa:
Just as basically, this is the same result as a CNN poll conducted in the last few days of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. In fact, the topline is identical — 41/51 on confirmation. CNN didn’t ask about reopening the investigation, perhaps because at that time it wasn’t yet clear in the polling cycle that Kavanaugh would be confirmed. When the sample gets limited to registered voters, by the way, support for more investigation slides a bit to 50/45 — still a majority but closer to a dead heat.
So what does this mean? Probably nothing at all. It’s easy to stay outraged a few days later, and exorcise a few personal demons at the ballot box. Both sides will likely be inclined to do that. Even if Democrats win a House majority, though, at least two months will pass before this could even come up. By that time, this will likely slide far down the Outrage-O-Meter, especially since the unsubstantiated allegations dried up just as soon as it became clear that Republicans wouldn’t back away from Kavanaugh — and no one has come forward with anything close to substantiation, either. The best Jerrold Nadler could do is just rehash what the Senate Judiciary Committee has already done, and the worst would be yet another free-for-all for unsubstantiated allegations to publicly smear a member of the judiciary.
In case readers missed it, there may yet be another investigation of Kavanaugh. Two days ago, Chief Justice John Roberts asked the Tenth Circuit to review more than a dozen ethics complaints filed against Kavanaugh, all relating to his testimony in the second hearing. Marcia Coyle writes at the National Law Journal that those complaints “face hurdles,” primarily because they don’t concern Kavanaugh’s actions as a judge:
Judicial ethics scholars who spoke with The National Law Journal on Thursday generally agreed the complaints against Kavanaugh likely will not lead to any reprimand. Still, there was disagreement over procedurally how the complaints will be resolved. There is no formal code of ethics that governs Supreme Court justices, though the court says it follows the rules that are in place for lower judges. …
The only information from the judiciary about the Kavanaugh complaints comes from the letter to Roberts from Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson of the D.C. Circuit. Henderson said: “The complaints do not pertain to any conduct in which Judge Kavanaugh engaged as a judge. The complaints seek investigations only of the public statements he has made as a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Kavanaugh’s hyper-partisan statements during his Sept. 27 confirmation hearing are unlikely to have any traction with the judicial council, the scholars said. Kavanaugh, days later, attempted to walk back some of his language, but he did not say what exactly he should not have said.
The judicial code of conduct applies to both conduct on and off the bench. But, Hellman said, the “further you get from exercise of the judicial role, the more cautious councils are and should be in finding misconduct.”
Hellman added: “Yes judges have strong feelings and express them, but they separate those feelings from what they do on the bench. Kavanaugh exploded in a way he probably shouldn’t have but when he goes on bench, he can put that aside.”
That’s pretty good advice to everyone after the midterms. The last thing we need is to relive the nonsense of the last month, especially when there will be exactly zero chance that Congress will take any action.
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