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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were full of sound and fury — protests, fights about the rules, questions and insinuations that quickly went viral — but the big picture hasn’t changed since the day he was nominated. He is very likely to be a Supreme Court justice, and a very conservative one, very soon and for a very long time.

Why it matters: Democrats are under a lot of pressure from their base to fight this nomination, and several of them made a go of it during Kavanaugh’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But two days of testimony only seemed to reinforce everyone’s existing opinions of Kavanaugh, and that momentum works to his benefit.

Between the lines: To stop or even slow Kavanaugh’s nomination, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee needed to plant new seeds of doubt about his qualifications or his beliefs. They threw everything they had at him, but none of it seemed to stick.

  • Liberal and conservative legal experts are both confident that Kavanaugh would be a reliable vote to curtail abortion rights, if he’s confirmed. All he said this week was that Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are established precedent. That’s simply a statement of fact, and makes conservatives no less confident about how they expect him to vote. It’s also enough to satisfy moderate Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins.
  • The dispute over records related to Kavanaugh’s time in the executive branch is mainly an intra-Senate one. Whether and to what extent Sen. Cory Booker broke the Senate’s rules far overshadowed anything in the documents he released. Those documents, overall, generated no fire, and only a little bit of smoke — not enough to create a broader push for more time to keep digging.
  • On executive power and investigations into sitting presidents, Kavanaugh made several nods to the Supreme Court’s decision ordering President Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes, but refused to answer questions about how he might approach a similar situation.

The hearing’s dramatic moments may well have helped energize Democrats, now and into 2020, and those can be real political gains for the party. But once Kavanaugh is confirmed, he’s there for life. It won’t matter what happens with the Mueller investigation, in 2018, or in 2020.

This is vindication for Trump’s decision to largely outsource judicial nominations to the conservative legal establishment. They’re getting their No. 1 priority — filling the federal judiciary with conservative judges at a record-breaking pace — and that is in turn helping to keep the Republican party in Trump’s corner even as he keeps igniting new political firestorms all around himself.

Go deeper

Neera Tanden withdraws nomination for Office of Management and Budget director

Neera Tanden testifying before the Senate Budget Committee in Washington, D.C., in February 2021. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Neera Tanden withdrew her name from nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget after several senators voiced opposition and concern about her qualifications and past combative tweets, President Biden announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Tanden’s decision to pull her nomination marks Biden's first setback in filling out his Cabinet with a thin Democratic majority in the Senate.

What's ahead for the newest female CEOs

Jane Fraser (L) and Rosalind Brewer. Photos: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images; Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The number of women at the helm of America’s biggest companies pales in comparison to men, but is newly growing — and their tasks are huge.

What's going on: Jane Fraser took over at Citigroup this week, the first woman to ever lead a major U.S. bank. Rosalind Brewer will take the reins at Walgreens in the coming weeks (March 15) — a company that's been run by white men for more than a century.

3 hours ago - Health

Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccines for 300 million adults by end of May

President Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday said that ramped-up coronavirus vaccine production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.

Why it matters: That's two months sooner than Biden's previous promise of enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of July.

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