The hearings have moved forward as if they are make or break for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. At times Republicans have seemed to suggest the nominee faces two options: a seat on the Supreme Court or permanent banishment.
This is, of course, not true.
Brett Kavanaugh sits on the second most powerful court in the country — second only to the highest court to which he is nominated. The Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handles all kinds of cases stemming from the nation’s capital, including most administrative law. That means it rules on regulations that affect Americans’ health care, workplace protections, and the state of the country’s environment. It also handles national security cases. Additionally, the Supreme Court is less likely to reverse D.C. Circuit Court rulings than those of other Circuit Courts.
If Kavanaugh is not confirmed to the Supreme Court, he’ll head back to work, safe in his lifetime appointment as one of America’s most powerful judges. (This despite the fact that, as Matt Ford notes at The New Republic, he may at yesterday’s hearing have violated the code of conduct for federal judges, who “should be faithful to, and maintain professional competence in, the law and should not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism.”)