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Morning Spin

Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, July 10, 2018  |  Editorial  |  Editorial Board

Less than an hour after President Donald Trump announced Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court pick, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin called him a “far-right jurist” who “could change the rules in America.”

“Just as troubling, in light of the ongoing Russia investigation, Judge Kavanaugh has expressed staunch opposition to criminal investigations of sitting presidents,” Durbin said in a statement.

That a top Democrat would oppose the Republican president’s Supreme Court choice is hardly surprising, but Durbin has had words for Kavanaugh before.

At a confirmation hearing in 2004, Durbin called Kavanaugh “the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics.”

“You show up at every scene of the crime,” Durbin said at the time, according to a transcript. “You are somehow or another deeply involved, whether it is Elian Gonzalez or the Starr report, you are there.” (Kavanaugh worked on independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s report on President Bill Clinton and fought for Gonzalez to stay in Miami.)

Kavanaugh’s selection also meant disappointment for former University of Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett, a Chicago U.S. Court of Appeals judge who was on Trump’s short list of potential nominees.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who criticized Republicans for not considering former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick of Merrick Garland, said “we can’t ignore” that Trump “promised to only nominate Justices who would put the government back in between women and their doctors.”

“If he succeeds, it won’t only affect people like me who could be prevented from having children through IVF,” she said, adding she “will thoroughly review Judge Kavanaugh’s rulings, evaluate his qualifications and look for him to make it clear to the American public that he would be independent, not simply a rubber stamp for Donald Trump’s whims, if he hopes to earn my support.”

What’s on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in Beijing, China.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner will tour a business in Schaumburg with Japanese Ambassador Shinsuke J. Sugiyama, then visit a domestic violence shelter in Rolling Meadows.

*Abortion-rights group Personal PAC, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and others will have a downtown news conference to pressure Rauner over his signature on a law to expand taxpayer-funded abortions.

From the notebook

*Kavanaugh and the race for governor: Rauner, who often avoids talking about national issues, praised Trump's Supreme Court pick via Twitter.

"Our nation deserves a justice who is qualified, experienced, and will faithfully interpret and defend the Constitution," the Rauner tweet read. "Judge Brett Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and he deserves a fair hearing and swift vote on his nomination."

Not long before the governor's tweet, Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker had called on Rauner to oppose Kavanaugh "in full force."

"There are lives on the line here and this is a moment that calls for leaders of all political stripes to come together," Pritzker said in a statement.

*Emanuel camp points to old McCarthy praise for mayor: Mayoral challenger and former Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy’s crime reduction plan included a heavy dose of the former top cop accusing Emanuel of meddling in the department. McCarthy vowed to restore city government by “eliminating the political manipulation and micromanagement of the Police Department by City Hall.”

Emanuel, meanwhile, accused McCarthy of changing his tune and having a “totally different position when he was police superintendent.” The mayor’s campaign produced a trio of old McCarthy quotes to back up his point.

In a March 2012 Hotline article, McCarthy referred to Emanuel in this way: “He wants to do the right thing, desperately. People like that are sometimes prone to micromanagement. He does not micromanage me. He tells me what he needs, (but) doesn’t tell me how to do it.”

In a July 2012 Chicago Magazine article, McCarthy again said Emanuel did not “micromanage” him.

And a February 2014 DNAinfo article noted, “McCarthy went on to praise Emanuel for keeping politics out of the Chicago Police Department.” “He’s allowed me to do what I see fit,” McCarthy said in that story.

The comments all substantially predated Emanuel’s decision to fire McCarthy in December 2015 amid the fallout from the release of the Laquan McDonald police shooting video. Emanuel has said he fired McCarthy because he had lost the confidence of the community, while McCarthy has portrayed himself as a scapegoat who was thrown under the bus by the mayor.

Asked about the Emanuel campaign pointing to the old positive comments, the former top cop’s campaign released a brief statement.

“If left to his own devices, he would micromanage; but I didn’t let him,” McCarthy said of Emanuel. “And that’s the reason he fired me.” (Bill Ruthhart)

What we’re writing

*McCarthy crime plan: Remove politics, Emanuel’s meddling from Police Department.

*Pfleger waiting for elected officials’ response before calling for future protests.

*Supreme Court’s Janus ruling could undercut private sector unions too.

*Activist plans community meetings to prepare for verdict in Laquan McDonald’s killing by police.

*City releases design of new Damen Green Line CTA station.

*Ofo pulls its dockless bikes from Chicago because of locking rules.

What we’re reading

*Meteor streaks across much of Midwest, including Chicago area.

*From prison to pioneer: a chef’s dream to transform one Chicago corner.

*Peoria-area police shoot cow with AR-15s.

Follow the money

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.

Beyond Chicago

*Trump picks Kavanaugh.

*Kavanaugh has endorsed broad presidential powers.

*About 50 immigrant children to be reunited with parents.

*May’s government in turmoil after Brexit leader resigns.