Democrats’ long-shot bid to scuttle Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination had hinged on converting at least one of the following Republican holdouts: Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, or Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. For Paul, the potential objections centered on Kavanaugh’s opinions regarding the Fourth Amendment and executive power.
“Kavanaugh’s position is basically that national security trumps privacy,” Paul told Politico last week. “And he said it very strongly and explicitly. And that worries me.” He was undecided and met with Kavanaugh shortly thereafter.
But being a holdout is no fun, and Paul is now fully on board. He announced his support for Kavanaugh in a statement on Monday morning.
“No one will ever completely agree with a nominee (unless, of course, you are the nominee),” Paul said. “Each nominee, however, must be judged on the totality of their views, character, and opinions.” On the whole, Paul concluded, Kavanaugh “will carefully adhere to the Constitution and will take his job to protect individual liberty seriously.”
Paul’s declaration, which comes weeks (at least) before Kavanaugh faces his confirmation hearings, is wholly unsurprising to both the Hill and sarcastic Twitter users who’ve never viewed his holdout status as a tenable position. Though Paul did hold steadfast in his opposition to multiple high-pressure health care bills the Senate considered last year, he’s been less resolute in his opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominees. He infamously crumbled earlier this year in his opposition to the confirmations of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
Paul conspicuously hoarded some Trump kiss-ass points earlier in July, following the president’s Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin. Paul was one of the president’s few unequivocal backers in the days after the disastrous meeting, and the president took notice.
But even that accrued stash of goodwill wouldn’t have covered a lone Republican vote to kill Trump’s Supreme Court nominee just before the midterms. A vote like that would have been Paul’s legacy, and it would have put a hard ceiling on his career in Republican politics, to whatever extent advancement was still in the picture. Joining Democrats to defeat Kavanaugh could have cost Republicans control of the Senate. The pressure on all 50 actively voting Republicans to back Kavanaugh is greater than any pressure they’ve faced on any legislation this Congress, which is why Republicans leaders are so confident they’ll have the votes.
As they’ll surely appreciate, Collins and Murkowski will now have somehow even more reporters stalking their every move in the Capitol until they, too, announce a position on the nomination. As of now, though, those two are on their way to “yes.” It will take some unknown bombshell buried within Kavanaugh’s long paper trail to stray them, and a few more buddies joining them for cover wouldn’t hurt either.