The confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh manifested in gradients of misery across the political left — from troughs of despair to peaks of anguished rage as a man accused of a drunken sexual assault assumed the judiciary’s highest seat.
The reaction on the right was more, let’s say, stratified. It was all somber decorum inside the secluded Supreme Court conference room where Kavanaugh took his oath, surrounded by his closest allies. And then rowdy celebrations and beer hashtags among the masses of Republicans who say he was falsely accused, as he insisted throughout his confirmation battle.
On the far-right fringes of the Internet, where Kavanaugh has become a symbol of things he says he abhors, his ascension was greeted with open declarations of misogyny.
Here are some of the many ways conservatives are celebrating.
With decorum …
As protesters screamed and banged on the bronze doors of the Supreme Court Building, Kavanaugh made his way through the halls inside toward the west conference room, where he swore his oath.
No members of the public or press were allowed at the ceremony. The photos released by the court show a calm, joyful scene: Kavanaugh standing beneath the portraits of chief justices, surrounded by his smiling daughters and wife, Ashley Kavanaugh, who stood by him after every accusation.
His old boss and close supporter, retired justice Anthony M. Kennedy, led him through the oath — to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. looked on, the Associated Press reported, as did two conservative justices and two liberal justices.
It was a formalized, scripted show of unity that bore no resemblance to the celebration taking place among Republicans beyond the Supreme Court’s walls.
… and gloating …
“Saturday Night Live” parodied the Republican reaction to Kavanaugh’s victory as a locker-room celebration — senators hooting and backslapping with towels draped across their shoulders.
President Trump came close to imitating art at a Saturday night rally in Topeka, Kan., when he told a cheering crowd that “just a few hours ago, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court."
The president paused mid-speech and danced a little circle on the podium, pumping his fists as people in the stands hoisted babies and chanted, “Kav-a-naugh, Kav-a-naugh!”
GOP senators were generally more restrained in public, though some of Kavanaugh’s most enthusiastic supporters, such as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), took victory laps on Twitter.
But even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saw the confirmation through a competitive lens, telling The Washington Post that the bruising confirmation battle had “been a great political gift for us. The tactics have energized our base.”
This, too, was evident on Twitter.
… and #Beers4Brett …
The #Beers4Brett hashtag was born last month, after Christine Blasey Ford testified Kavanaugh had tried to rape her in the 1980s while drunk on beer. Grilled by Senate Democrats about the allegation and his teenage drinking habits, the nominee repeatedly dismissed their concerns with lines such as “I liked beer.”
The phrase caught on with Kavanaugh’s supporters, who began to post photos of themselves hoisting beers in his honor. Many considered the meme demeaning to victims of alcohol-related sexual assaults, if not to Ford herself, but it nevertheless kept spreading.
It went legitimately viral after the confirmation vote Saturday, when a member of the College Republicans at the University of Washington drank his first beer in the name of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, and even Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) joined the party with a glass of bubbly.
… and things unprintable.
If #Beers4Brett was arguably in bad taste, the celebratory messages that spread across far-right message boards after Saturday’s vote are mostly unprintable.
Some called for Ford to be prosecuted and jailed. Others looked forward to the end of federal abortion rights (a fear of many Democrats who opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination) and women’s voting rights (which Kavanaugh has never suggested).
Matt Novak at Gizmodo collected samples of the most obscene memes, a fair number of which depicted the new Supreme Court justice as some sort of glowing-eyed superhero doing battle with women who would take men’s rights away.
Just as he denied the sexual allegations against him, Kavanaugh spent much of the past three weeks trying to distance himself from any hint of misogyny. He condemned sexist jokes that appeared in his high school yearbook, and recited letter after letter from female supporters during his Senate testimony. “I’ve devoted huge efforts to encouraging and promoting the careers of women,” he said.
But like it or not, he’s now many things to many people. He’s a villain on the left, a star on the right and a role model to anonymous Internet trolls who celebrate the sort of things he’s denied doing in the strongest terms.