The confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh kicks off Tuesday and for the next three days will go a little something like this:
Judge Kavanaugh is an open-minded jurist who interprets the law in a careful and fair-minded way.
Judge Kavanaugh is a close-minded right-wing nightmare who will interpret the law to forward a far-right agenda.
Buckles optional, because it looks like it’s going to be a predictable ride.*
*This is the Trump administration, so anything can happen.
Kavanaugh spent the long weekend mostly at home refining his opening remarks and “locking in” his pitch, which he wrote himself, according to a source familiar with the process. Since late last week, his prep work has moved to his chambers or his home.
“This is the first time since his announcement he’ll be able to show how he views the law and reintroduce himself to the country as a whole,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah, who is helping usher Kavanaugh through the confirmation process.
But, save for his remarks, on Tuesday Kavanaugh will mostly get to listen—to his defenders and his critics talk about him or at him for hours on end.
He’ll be introduced by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and Lisa Blatt, a Washington-based attorney and self-described “liberal Democrat and feminist.”
They are there to try to “inoculate” Kavanaugh from the charges of conservative bias and radical views, and present him as a reasonable and fair jurist.
On Wednesday, senators will get to question Kavanaugh on everything from executive power to abortion to voting rights to health care. Expect impassioned, made-for-cable speeches, complaining about process, requests for allowing the nominee to answer and, of course, drama.
Republicans and Democrats also have a series of witnesses, 13 for, 13 against, to either support or tear down the image that Kavanaugh and his three initial defenders build.
The Republican side will will feature former solicitor general Theodore Olson as well as former law clerks and lawyers who have argued in front of Kavanaugh, and professors who can speak to his character and judgment and ultimately how non-controversial he is.
Democrats will have witnesses like Rochelle Garza, the legal guardian of an undocumented girl who wanted access to an abortion while in U.S. custody last year. She was ultimately granted one, but Kavanaugh dissented.
But they will also have witnesses who have never encountered Kavanaugh but can speak to the importance of certain issues. Aalayah Eastmond, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, will highlight Second Amendment issues; and Jackson Corbin, a 12-year-old health care activist from Hanover, Pennsylvania, has a rare genetic disorder and has lobbied Congress against Medicaid cuts.
From the department of not so subtle, John Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon and Watergate whistleblower, will also testify in opposition to Kavanaugh.