Consider nominee’s qualification, not party

And the race was on.

It took just about 30 minutes from the start of Donald Trump’s nationally televised announcement Monday unveiling Brett Kavanaugh as his U.S. Supreme Court nominee until four unsolicited statements from elected Ohio leaders popped into my Tribune Chronicle email.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta was first in at 9:16 p.m. He said the “Supreme Court is no place for Justices who want to rewrite the Constitution.” It should be no surprise that the Republican congressman said he believes Kavanaugh fits the needed profile.

A statement from Ohio Sen. Rob Portman arrived five minutes later at 9:21 p.m. The Republican, of course, is looking “forward to considering the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh,” whom he described as “clearly qualified” with an “impressive background.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, wasn’t far behind. This Democrat’s predictable statement arrived at 9:26 p.m., saying Kavanaugh’s nomination reinforces what we already know. That is, he said, that Trump “wants a court that will toss aside established precedent and take away” women’s rights.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, brought up the rear. His statement didn’t arrive until 9:39 p.m., but I’ll give him a bonus point because, despite the “D” after his name and his stated “serious concerns,” he said he would at least consider Kavanaugh by thoroughly reviewing his record and asking “tough questions face-to-face” before making a decision.

Undoubtedly, leaders on both sides of the aisle had their minds made up long before Kavanaugh’s name was announced.

Expected support by Republicans and opposition from Democrats was coming no matter who he or she was. This is not just my speculation. There is proof!

This tweet came from the national Democratic party moments after Trump’s announcement:

“MUST READ: A vote for #KavanaughSCOTUS would be a vote to rip health care from American families and deny women their right to make their own health care choices.”

The problem is, it was inaccurately accompanied by a darkened, sinister image of Judge Thomas Hardiman — not Kavanaugh.

The Democrats eventually tweeted the same message, but with an image of the correct judge.

Hardiman was, indeed, on Trump’s short list, which just tells me the Dems were ready to go with their negativity — regardless of who was nominated.

Also Monday night, organizers of last year’s Women’s March on Washington posted a statement condemning the nomination with this embarrassing error: the nominee’s name was missing. The social media post, instead, said this:

“In response to Donald Trump’s nomination of XX to the Supreme Court of the United States, The Women’s March released the following statement …” The next paragraph included the name, but it was misspelled.

An updated and corrected message went out minutes later.

Republicans, of course, took the opportunity to blast the errors.

“A number of our Democratic colleagues could not even wait until the president’s announcement last night before launching attacks on his nominee,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday. “This was, in some cases quite literally, a fill-in-the-blank opposition. They wrote statements of opposition only to fill in the name later.”

Now, the point of my column today is neither to argue in favor nor against Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh. (I’m not kidding when I say I haven’t taken the time yet to research Kavanaugh and make up my own mind.) Rather, this is just to point out yet more evidence of what consistently leads to ongoing gridlock and divisiveness in our nation’s capital — predetermined votes based on political affiliation rather than facts.

To borrow the stated position of Sen. Sherrod Brown, our elected officials can (and should) have serious concerns when considering any Supreme Court nominee with potential to shape the high court’s decisions for decades. But that should do no more than fuel close inspection of records and really hard questions. It should not decide any senator’s vote based only on what party the nomination came from.

blinert@tribtoday.com