Justice Anthony Kennedy gave President Donald Trump the biggest political gift possible when he announced his resignation in the spring. Even though not everything that’s gone wrong is Trump’s fault, he has managed to make a complete hash of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to fill the empty seat on the court. It’s a good example of how badly Trump does his job more than a year and a half into his administration.  To begin with, Trump has outsourced his judicial nominations to outside, party-aligned groups, the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society. That included an unusually central role for the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo.

That wasn’t entirely a Trump mistake. His decision during the campaign to release a list of potential justices drafted by Leo reflected the reality-TV star’s weakness as a presidential candidate. The party was worried that Trump might turn out not to be a conservative; to reassure them, he publicly committed to their top goal. In some ways, that’...

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