- The Washington Times
Sunday, October 7, 2018

Senate Democrats had a message Sunday for progressives fired up about impeaching Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh: Move on.

Sen. Chris Coons, Delaware Democrat, characterized calls to oust the newly sworn-in justice “premature,” urging liberal voters to concentrate on the November election instead of spending energy on the high-risk, low-probability impeachment route.

“I think that’s premature,” Mr. Coons said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think frankly we are just less than a month away from an election. Folks who feel very strongly one way or the other about the issues in front of us should get out and vote and participate.”

Whether to impeach a sitting Supreme Court justice becomes the latest issue to split the party as establishment Democrats seek to harness the left’s energy without embracing fringe positions likely to scare off moderate voters.

Certainly Republicans like their chances if the midterm elections become a divisive referendum on whether to impeach Justice Kavanaugh.

“I hope everyone running for the House in these purple districts will be asked the question, ‘Do you support impeaching Judge Kavanaugh based on five allegations, none of which could be corroborated?’” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican.

“‘Do you want an outcome so badly that you would basically turn the law upside down?’” he said. “All I can say is that this is going to the streets, at the ballot box.”

Even so, progressives have shown no sign of abandoning the impeachment option. No sooner had Justice Kavanaugh won Senate confirmation Saturday on a 50-48 vote than the left reupped its impeachment campaign on social media.

Free Speech for People posted a petition calling for “an impeachment investigation,” while the Democratic Coalition’s Scott Dworkin tweeted, “It’s already time to #ImpeachKavanaugh.”

“The Senate rushed through this process without taking the opportunity to conduct a real investigation of the serious charges against Kavanaugh,” said Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech for People. “It’s not too late for the House of Representatives to demand answers, and if warranted after a full investigation, to impeach Kavanaugh.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat in line to chair the House Judiciary Committee if his party captures the chamber in November, said last week he was determined to initiate an investigation into perjury allegations against Justice Kavanaugh if the Senate fails to do so.

A committee investigation would represent the first step in the process toward a House impeachment vote.

“If he is on the Supreme Court and the Senate hasn’t investigated, then the House will have to,” Mr. Nadler told ABC News. “We would have to investigate any credible allegations certainly of perjury and other things that haven’t been properly looked at before.”

Another four Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have also called for investigating allegations against Justice Kavanaugh, who was accused by Christine Blasey Ford of sexually assaulting her 36 years when they were teens, a charge he has denied.

Progressives have since accused Justice Kavanaugh of lying during his Sept. 27 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, arguing that he downplayed his teenage drinking and misled the panel on the meaning of words he used in high school, such as “boof.”

“We have to assure the American people either that it was a fair process and that the new justice did not commit perjury, did not do these terrible things, or reveal that we just don’t know because the investigation was a whitewash,” Mr. Nadler told the New York Times.

Mr. Coons cited the low likelihood of impeaching a sitting Supreme Court justice. Only one justice, Samuel Chase, has ever undergone impeachment in the House, and he was ultimately acquitted by the Senate in 1805.

“There’s only ever been one justice that’s been impeached, and I think talking about it at this point isn’t necessarily healing us and moving us forward,” said Mr. Coons.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, deflected questions Sunday about whether Democrats should pursue impeachment if the party takes control of the House in the midterm elections.

“I’m much more focused on the here and now, which is that we have an election coming up,” said Ms. Hirono on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I said to the women who are justifiably angry but determined, I said they should be just focused like a laser beam on the elections.”

If Republicans appear unalarmed about the impeachment possibility, it may be because they remember what happened the last time the House sought to oust a federal figure: the 1999 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

The effort failed after Senate voted to acquit the Democrat Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction. A year later, voters replaced the term-limited Clinton with Republican George W. Bush in a historically tight race, but the GOP lost seats in both the House and Senate.

An impeachment effort would also keep afloat narratives that Democrats would prefer to forget, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s failure to protect Ms. Ford’s identity, while reminding Republicans of their outrage over what Mr. Graham described as an “orchestrated political hit.”

Republican strategist Mike McKenna encouraged Democratic candidates to “offer clarity about their intentions.”

“Proceed to impeachment of the President, and now Justice Kavanaugh, abolition of ICE, Medicare for all, repeal tax reform,” Mr. McKenna said in an email. “It will give the voters a clear understanding of what the folks on the Left intend to do should they control the House. I don’t understand why anyone in the Senate would oppose offering voters a clear choice.”

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