After Brett Kavanaugh was announced as Donald Trump‘s latest nominee to the Supreme Court, my inbox was full of reactions from a variety of organizations within minutes. That’s not unusual. Advocacy groups usually know who the top tier candidates are and have reactions planned in advance — the faster they can get a statement to reporters, the more likely their comments (and their groups) will appear in news coverage about the selection. Free publicity!
But there was one really strange reaction coming from the American Family Association’s President Tim Wildmon. Here’s what he sent to his mailing list just moments after the nomination was announced:
Judge Kavanaugh is simply the wrong nominee — even a bad nominee. Based on his written opinions, Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated a deficiency in a constitutional judicial philosophy of a limited judiciary. Some of his decisions may have been favorable, but several of his opinions about those decisions contain problematic language.
For example, they said, in a decision that involved a Catholic group that didn’t want to cover birth control in its insurance plans, Kavanaugh sided with the Catholic group. Great news for conservatives… except for one thing (emphasis theirs):
Judge Kavanaugh unnecessarily conceded in his opinion that the government has a compelling interest to force religious organizations to provide contraceptives and abortifacients for employees. Kavanaugh’s concession created a dangerous precedent.
See?! He didn’t go far enough in his decision. He’s too moderate for their tastes! The AFA briefly touched on other rulings of his they didn’t like, but the point was clear: Kavanaugh wasn’t the best pick, and they had concerns. They wanted members to tell their senators to oppose the nomination.
That is, I assume, until they saw every other Christian group talking about how important it was for Kavanaugh to get on the Court. If they can’t do it quickly enough, it’s possible Democrats could take over the Senate and block Republicans’ efforts to punish women who don’t want to be pregnant.
You have to hand it to Wildmon, though. His reasoning is awful, but at least he had the guts to go against the flow and admit his reservations…
… until the next afternoon, when he promptly reversed course. (You have to wonder how many donors threatened to walk away…)
Here’s the New and Improved statement about Kavanaugh — the only one you’ll find on their website now.
AFA has opposed the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S Supreme Court for some very valid reasons. We are deeply concerned about how he might ultimately rule on issues related to abortion and religious liberty. For these reasons, we consider this nomination to represent a four-star appointment when it could have been five-star.
However, after hearing the concerns of some of our supporters, and after hearing the passionate defense of Judge Kavanaugh by many we consider to be friends in the pro-life movement, we are willing to let this process play out. We eagerly await the confirmation hearings when we hope to get clarification from Judge Kavanaugh on aspects related to our concerns.
At this time, we have no plans to fight President Trump on this nomination. He has appointed a lot of good federal judges already and we look forward to many more. We hope that our concerns prove to be unfounded.
That’s quite the backtrack on a belief which they discussed in detail in the first message, even providing links to back up their talking points! It’s like they saw a movie, gave it a bad review, realized they were the only ones who hated it, and suddenly decided, “You know what? I changed my mind. That movie was pretty good after all! I was just too focused on the plot to understand the entire film.”
I doubt this will happen, but if Kavanaugh gets on the Court and ever decides a case on the same side as the liberal justices, someone please remind me that the AFA was right about him… for a couple of hours.