WHAT DOES THE ASCENSION OF SUCH AN UNPOPULAR FIGURE MEAN FOR THE LEGITIMACY OF THE SUPREME COURT?
Regular readers of this blog know that one of my big political concerns is the impact of the conservative movement on the legitimacy of our governing institutions. I really believe we are heading toward a tipping point in which the bulk of the people no longer recognize their government as a legitimate authority. I’m not going into the reasoning in this post. However, it’s clear that our Executive branch is a shambles. Our legislature is suffering record low approval. Our very concept of the value of government, from the left, right and center is frayed. The term corrupt politician is almost accepted as redundant.
Now we have the nomination and the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is probably the last of our three branches to feel the impact of illegitimacy. Despite a conservative majority often taking unpopular positions, the High Court has balanced its decisions so as to maintain some vestige of legitimacy. But now conservatives have the opportunity to completely tip the balance of the court into the solid, right-wing column. Arguably, with the confirmation of Kavanaugh, the conservative movement may very well have succeeded.
Add on top of that the problematics of Kavanaugh personal character: perhaps lying to Congress, his misleading answers that do not jibe with his legal history and the clear disdain he has for legislators who question his authority and character. Add on top of this the very likely probability that he may have sexually assaulted multiple women. Kavanaugh is, perhaps, the most delegitimized person to ever ascend to the Supreme Court. What impact might this have on the perceived legitimacy of the Court as well as the government as a whole?