The Seven Softest Softball Questions Republicans Asked Brett Kavanaugh

“What is the Declaration of Independence?”

By any standard, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s past few days with the Senate Judiciary Committee have been grueling. Democrats pressed hard on his views of abortion, presidential power, and the Russia investigation, and at times, tensions were high. But when Republicans had their chance to vet President Donald Trump’s candidate for the highest court in the land, in many cases, frankly, they couldn’t have made things any easier for him. 

Here are some of the GOP’s biggest softballs for the Supreme Court nominee:

“Are you a John-Boy Walton type or a Ferris Bueller type?”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) didn’t hold back on the third day of Kavanaugh’s hearing, asking the vital question on all of our minds: “Did you ever get in trouble?” he asked of the judge’s time in high school. “Were you more of a John Boy Walton type or a Ferris Bueller type?” 

Kavanaugh avoided giving a direct answer and said, “I love sports first and foremost, I think I worked hard at school, I had a lot of friends…It was very formative.” 

Kennedy asks about high school around the 16-minute mark here:

“What is the Declaration of Independence?”

Yes, this really was a question. On Thursday, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) asked Kavanaugh, “The Constitution is fundamental law for us. What’s the Declaration of Independence?”

Do you plan to play on the Supreme Court basketball court? 

This whopper comes from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). He says, “As you know, there is another highest court in the land. That is, the basketball court atop the US Supreme Court courtroom. And I believe that no sitting justice has played regularly there since Justice Thomas, many years ago, when he was a much younger justice.” He asks Kavanaugh if he intends to break that tradition.

“I do, if fortunate enough to be confirmed,” Kavanaugh says.

“What interaction do you have with homeless people?”

In asking Kavanaugh, “What interaction do you have with homeless people?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) gave him the unfettered opportunity to boast about his work with a Washington, DC, Catholic charity. After Kavanaugh quotes Matthew 25 (“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me”), Graham follows up with, “Describe the difference between Brett Kavanaugh the man and Brett Kavanaugh the judge.”

Kavanugh cites his community service, and says “We’re all God’s children. We’re all equal.”

“What people do you admire and why?”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) opened his line of questioning on Wednesday by asking Kavanaugh, “What people do you admire and why?” Kavanaugh gives a long-winded answer, but then proceeds to list the safest of safe: his mother, Justice Anthony Kennedy (whom he calls a “model of civility”), Justice Antonin Scalia (a “fierce protector” of individual liberty), Justice William Rehnquist, and Justice Robert Jackson, among others.

Why do you prefer to take notes with a Sharpie?

“I noticed that you take a lot of notes,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), to Kavanaugh on Thursday. “You use a Sharpie. And it’s not a fine-tipped Sharpie. It’s a regular sharpie…Why do you prefer that pen?” 

“So I can see it,” Kavanaugh says, with a giggle. “It’s nothing scientific.”

“Do you have a story behind that pocket Constitution?”

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) also hit Kavanaugh really hard on Thursday with a question about the judge’s pocket constitution. Kavanaugh had referenced the book several times during the hearing.

“Do you have a story behind that pocket Constitution?” Tillis asked. Kavanaugh said he got it about 25 years ago, that he’s used it teaching classes at Harvard Law School, and that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) gave him a new one to replace his tattered version. Groundbreaking.