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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed later today, as looks all but certain, he'll be numerically one-ninth of the Supreme Court. But he'll draw a vastly disproportionate share of attention and speculation, controversy and criticism.

Why it matters: Both sides made it clear last night that they plan to keep Kavanaugh in the news for political purposes, deepening and prolonging the most divisive new issue of the Trump era.

  • As the decisive vote tipping the justices to the conservative side, he effectively makes this the Kavanaugh Court.
  • "Abortion, affirmative action, campaign finance, gay rights — all those are going to go in a very different direction because Anthony Kennedy is gone and Brett Kavanaugh will be there," legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN.

President Trump was ecstatic last night — very fired up and happy, an aide tells Jonathan Swan.

  • Trump has been briefed on the polling impact — on his own approval rating, and on the "Brett bounce" that is closing enthusiasm gap between Rs and Ds for midterms, 31 days from now.
  • So look for the president to trumpet the win and continue to brag about the Kavanaugh confirmation, as he continues to do about Justice Neil Gorsuch.
  • “It feels like the narrative of what’s going on in 2016," a White House official told Swan. "The reality is probably more mixed."

Top Dems tell me that the impeachment of Kavanaugh, however impractical, will be an irresistible applause line for the party's 2020 hopefuls in New Hampshire and Iowa in the months after Nov. 6.

  • Look for Democrats to try to hold off on a Kavanaugh impeachment crusade for the next month, though, to avoid elevating a painful issue for Senate Democrats running in red states.

Republicans are already fanning that fire. Donald Trump Jr. was the first political figure on the right to come out pushing the impeachment message after it became clear that Kavanaugh had the votes:

  • "Trump supporters - The fight isn’t over. You better believe that Democrats are going to do everything in their power to impeach Kavanuagh from the Supreme Court if they take control of Congress in November. This is war. Time to fight. Vote on Nov 6 to protect the Supreme Court!"

Andy Surabian, a GOP strategist who ran the Trump Tower war room in 2016, tells us: "[T]o keep the base enthused through November 6th, Republicans must now turn the midterms into a referendum on Democrats attempting to impeach Judge Kavanaugh from the court."

  • "Fortunately for Republicans, Democrat activists ... are already openly talking about the possibility." (Surabian sent a slew of D tweets that do just that.)
  • "The threat of Democrats impeaching Kavanuagh creates the all-important 'fear of a loss' needed among Republican voters to keep them supercharged for the next five weeks. ... Kavanaugh is rocket fuel to Republican voters."

Don't expect the 5-4 decisions by the Kavanaugh Court to be "humble, meek, narrow," said Brian Fallon, executive director of the progressive Demand Justice:

  • "I expect far-reaching, sweeping decisions. I think they’ll set out to harpoon a bunch of white whales — unions, voting rights, economic regulation."
  • "That'll be like rubbing an open sore. People are going to raise their fist and growl: "Kavanaugh!'"
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Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.