In the hours before Brett Kavanaugh was approved by the U.S. Senate for a seat on the country’s highest court, following dramatic Senate hearings and angry #MeToo protests, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis sent out a statement warning against a future filled with “the politics of personal destruction.”
“Roles will be eventually reversed when a Democratic president nominates a Supreme Court justice,” Tillis said. “For the good of the nation, Republicans must resist the urge to reciprocate the politics of personal destruction when that time comes.”
The statement echoed comments Tillis made when Kavanaugh appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member of the Republican majority.
On Sept. 27, Tillis apologized to Kavanaugh. “I’ve gone through a campaign and had a lot of smears, but it pales in comparison to what you’ve had to deal with,” he said.
Tillis said to the nominee, “You’re the first major target of a new strategy that’s developed here.” He described the strategy as “attack, attack, attack. It’s not advise and consent; it’s search and destroy.”
In the statement Tillis released Saturday, he said: “The toxic search and destroy tactics employed by Senate Democrats during the Kavanaugh confirmation have debased the integrity of the Supreme Court, disgraced our political discourse, and upended innocent lives.”
There would be lasting harm, Tillis said, to the country and its institutions.
“If Republicans ever decide to emulate the Democrats’ search and destroy playbook, they can count me out,” Tillis said.
The statement did not specifically mention the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh or the women who have come forward to publicly accuse him, including Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Judiciary Committee.
Senators approved Kavanaugh’s nomination Saturday afternoon by a 50-48 vote. Both North Carolina senators, Tillis and Richard Burr, also a Republican, voted to confirm Kavanaugh.
The vote, which took place amid shouting from the gallery, represented one the closest margins of victory for a Supreme Court nominee.
Until 2017, Supreme Court nominees needed the support of 60 senators. Republicans reached for the “nuclear option,” a rule change that meant Supreme Court nominees would need only a majority of senators to vote in their favor, in the days before the last Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was approved by a 54-45 vote.
Sixty votes also used to be required for approval of cabinet appointments and lower-level federal judges. Democrats chose the “nuclear option” for those positions in 2013.