Democrats on the brink

Democrats on the brink

How many Democratic Senators will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh? I suspect the answer depends on how many Republican Senators will.


If Republican Senators don’t break ranks, the votes of their Democratic colleagues won’t matter. In that event, a few Democrats will probably break ranks and support the nominee in order to enhance their re-election prospects.


But if it requires Democratic votes to confirm Kavanaugh, I don’t think any Democrats will supply them. It will be too difficult to explain to Democratic voters why they cast the votes that confirmed a nominee too “radical” for Susan Collins, and a nominee who will move the Supreme Court to the right.


This is all conjecture, of course. I might be completely wrong. What we know is that at least two Democrats facing tough reelection campaigns in red states are positioning themselves to vote to confirm Kavanaugh if it seems politic to do so.


Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia had this to say about the nominee:



I think he seems to be a very fine person of high moral standards, a family person who’s very involved in his community, has all the right qualities. He’s well-educated. And with that, you know, we have to just look at making sure that the rule of law and the Constitution is going to be followed, and that’s going to basically preempt anything else he does.


Most importantly. . .I intend to hear from West Virginians. And during that period of time, I just announced, I’ll be hearing from West Virginians and their opinion. And I think they have, also, a right. And that’s who I work for. They’re my boss. And we want to hear from them, too, during this process. .



A new poll released on Tuesday by Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) found that 59 percent of West Virginia voters want Manchin to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.


I looks to me like Manchin will do so unless something is discovered that causes one or two Republican Senators to defect.


The same poll finds that 56 percent of Indiana voters want their Senator, Joe Donnelly, to vote to confirm the Kavanaugh. Sen. Donnelly has not, to my knowledge, praised the nominee the way Sen. Manchin has. But Donnelly echoed Manchin when he said, “I work for the people of Indiana and I want them to have a voice in this.”


In addition, Donnelly says he will review Kavanaugh’s rulings and writing in legal publications. Standing alone, that statement is neutral. But Donnelly adds: “When I spoke with justice Gorsuch, when I reviewed his writings, when I reviewed his court decisions, I became comfortable he wasn’t extreme one way or the other.” Donnelly voted to confirm Gorsuch.


In other words, Donnelly plans to follow the same drill that led him to buck his party, and vote in Gorsuch’s favor. He is prepared, it seems, to vote to confirm Kavanaugh if the judge’s rulings and writings are no more extreme than Gorsuch’s.


Now, Kavanaugh has written more than Gorsuch had, considering his work at the White House and on Ken Starr’s team. But Kavanaugh is, I believe, a careful and judicious guy and probably has been all along.


Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether Sen. Heidi Heitkamp begins to make mildly pro-Kavanaugh statements. The poll I cited above found that 68 percent of North Dakota voters want Heitkamp to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. If that number holds, the pressure on her to comply will be enormous.


Stay tuned.