“girl holding fight like a girl-printed paper beside woman holding plastic pack” by Rochelle Brown on Unsplash

Both Democrats and Republicans are claiming right now that their bases are energized. Indeed, a recent poll sponsored by NPR seemed to indicate that the “enthusiasm gap” which existed between Republicans and Democrats. It appears that Brett Kavanaugh’s fiery denunciation of the charges against him motivated Republicans who were feeling pretty turned off from politics.

Based upon recent developments, it appears pretty clear that Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court. That joke of an FBI investigation provided Jeff Flake and Susan Collins enough of a fig leaf to cover their vote for this wholly unsuitable nominee. Anyone who thought there was really a chance of stopping his nomination was probably kidding themselves. Alas, hope springs eternal.

When this is all over, probably this weekend, Republicans will surely celebrate. But in accomplishing this quiet coup of the judiciary, Mitch McConnell and his allies have planted the seeds of their undoing.

After all, what is the opposite of enthusiasm if not complacency. Once Kavanaugh has taken his place among the nine, Republicans will see little more reason to fight with such passion. After all, they have accomplished their long-cherished goal: an anti-choice majority on the Supreme Court. Although they may say they intend to vote in November due to the passion this confirmation fight aroused, I doubt it.

Consider the following. Who here has not had that feeling of elation after succeeding at something. Although at first you’re energized, shortly thereafter a sense of relief, then acceptance set in. This is how Republicans will be feeling after this weekend.

Feelings of satisfaction do not motivate one to vote. Feelings of anger and grievance do. Right now, Democrats have those feelings in spades. It will be galling to watch a Supreme Court majority made up of Republican men, two of whom have been credibly accused of sexual assault or harassment, two of whom were appointed by the pussy-grabber himself, voter against the three women on the Court to take away women’s rights. This anger will push Democrats to the polls.

The spectacle in Washington only served to reinforce the growing sense among Democrats that the Supreme Court is not an august judicial institution. This sense started with Bush v. Gore and has only increased with Citizens United. In reality, the Court is increasingly perceived as a nakedly partisan body unworthy of the privileges it is granted, such as lifetime appointment. As a result, when Democrats are again in charge — as inevitably happens — change is coming.

Democrats will no longer feel the sense of deference bestowed upon the Supreme Court dating back to the days of Chief Justice John Marshall. You can expect that the first time Democrats control both Houses of Congress and the Presidency, they will expand the size of the Court, confirm two young liberal Justices, and impose 18-year term limits upon all Justices — perhaps even make them retroactive. With control of Congress and the Presidency, they could do all this, quickly washing away any gains the Republicans made with their bare-knuckled politicization of the process.

Kavanaugh surely does not care. He has shown all he cares about is his own sense of entitlement. If there is an institutionalist on the bench right now, however, it is Chief Justice John Roberts. A brilliant mind, Roberts has certainly already made this calculation. The question remains how much Roberts is willing to do to protect the Court’s position in American society. At this point, he will have to take some dramatic steps to make Democrats feel that they owe the Supreme Court any consideration. Otherwise, he will preside over the downfall of this once august institution.

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Mike is an Assistant Professor of Management for Legal and Ethical Studies at Oakland U. Mike combines his scholarship with practical experience in politics.

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