Opinion

Let’s all calm down about the Supreme Court

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The siren had sounded, and an all-hands-on-deck alert had been issued. A Supreme Court vacancy had opened up, and a Republican president had just announced a candidate to fill the vacancy. A candidate that must (full stop) be (full stop) defeated (full stop).

He was out of the judicial mainstream. Hostile to women’s rights, said liberal activist leaders. So hostile, in fact, that the president of the National Organization for Women would say that placing him on the court would “end freedom for women in this country,” and that he would certainly be another vote to end Roe v. Wade.

The left sprung into action immediately. Women’s groups held rallies outside the Senate building.

The NAACP, for its part, begged its members to write their senators and pressure them to oppose the nomination. Confirming this man as a justice, the group’s executive director said, had to be stopped, because he had not given a ”convincing repudiation” of ”certain civil rights positions he had taken, specifically his claim that filing a routine racial breakdown of state employees with the Federal Government would ‘unmistakably institutionalize quotas,’ and his reference to affirmative action as ‘affirmative discrimination.’ ”

Leftist senators opposed the nomination with everything they had. Their rhetoric was hot — hyperbolic even — and they were crystal clear about one thing in particular. This man would turn back the clock. On everything.

Said the high-profile liberal senator from Massachusetts, “the aspects of his record on the bench … raise troubling questions about the depth of his commitment to the indispensable role of the Supreme Court in protecting individual rights and liberties. … our constitutional freedoms are too important to entrust to Justices who would turn back the clock on these basic issues.”

But the nominee was not Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the president of NOW was not Terry O’Neill, the executive director of the NAACP was not Derrick Johnson, and the liberal senator from Massachusetts was not Elizabeth Warren.

No, the nominee was David Souter, and the liberal alliance fighting him was Molly Yard, Dr. Benjamin Hooks and Sen. Ted Kennedy, respectively.

Souter ended up becoming one of the most reliably liberal justices on the court for two decades, and none of the apocalyptic predictions about him came true.

Souter is not an isolated case. Sandra Day O’Connor, one of the most revered moderates on the court, was nominated by the very much pro-life Ronald Reagan, and was central in preserving Roe v. Wade during her time on the court.

John Paul Stevens, who was nominated by Republican Gerald Ford, was attacked by NOW as having a “consistent opposition to women’s rights,” before going on to become one of the most liberal members of the court for three decades, and vigorously supporting abortion rights.

And, of course, Harry Blackmun, who was appointed by Republican Richard Nixon, not only became one of the most liberal members of the court in his tenure, but was the author of the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade.

Over the coming weeks, you are likely to hear a never-ending barrage of negativity as it relates to Kavanaugh from those who profit off extreme, cataclysmic rhetoric. Already the commercials are running. Millions of dollars are being raised for special interest groups off people that are kept permanently whipped up and on edge.

Politicians are already elbowing each other out of the way to make use of those permanently whipped-up masses, making the most extreme case that Kavanaugh is Satan incarnate.

Understand what you are watching. None of these people is taking a rational, sober look at the nominee. These people need you and others to believe things that are not true, or are at the most unclear and unknown, and to think that if you don’t act right now, the entire future of the country will be destroyed.

Why do they need it to be this way? So they can raise money. So they can justify their existence. So they can appear relevant. So they can become more prominent in certain political circles.

In short, it is all self-interest.

What is the reality? A conservative justice who broke to the left on a handful of decisions is being replaced by a conservative justice who clerked for the man he is replacing, and who appears to be a rational, thoughtful, qualified jurist.

In other words, relax, the world is not ending. It might be time to tone it down a bit.

Matthew Gagnon of Yarmouth is the chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. A Hampden native, he previously served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C.

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