All The Reasons Even GOP Senators Should Vote No On Brett Kavanaugh

Trump has put forward one of the most problematic nominees for the Supreme Court in history.
President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, for the second day of his confirmation to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, for the second day of his confirmation to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

When Trump opened up a second Supreme Court nomination by working behind the scenes to convince Justice Kennedy to retire, activists of every creed gave a collective moan. As a result of a slew of Kennedy’s final decisions, the highest court in the land was already keeling right and threatening to undermine decades of progress to advance social justice causes like LGBTQ rights, voter rights, and worker’s rights. Another conservative judge seemed like a nail in the coffin not just for Roe V. Wade but a myriad of other decisions that would cement continued economic, social, and racial inequality in America.

Enter Brett Kavanaugh, a candidate rubber-stamped by the Federalist society with a law degree from Yale. He was championed by Don McGahn, but many believe Brett Kavanaugh won Trump’s heart with his 2009 paper outlining why sitting presidents should not be subjected to investigations or lawsuits while in office. Beyond his years in the Bush administration and at the Department of Justice, Kavanaugh had over 12 years of experience presiding over federal appeals court decisions. On the surface of things, Kavanaugh seemed like a safe, albeit extremely conservative choice.

We’ve just finished confirmation hearings, and already it’s sinking in that, in true Trump fashion, this may be the swampiest Supreme Court nominee ever. Mired in accusations of both racism and sexism from former colleagues and evidence of perjury from his last Senate confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh is looking less like a strong candidate for the Supreme Court and more like a federal judge who should be impeached. As released documents that the GOP hid from public view expose Kavanaugh’s vices, it becomes clear that Trump may have torpedoed his own party with a toxic candidate ahead of the midterms.

Trump has forced Republicans to make a controversial choice. Remain loyal to the President or to a country that certainly deserves a better judge than the likes of Brett Kavanaugh presiding over the law of the land. It should be an easy answer for some GOP senators. While his confirmation may be a foregone conclusion ahead of midterms in a Senate controlled by Republicans, Kavanaugh would remain vulnerable to impeachment and his nomination a stain on the record of any Republican who dared vote for him in the face of such overwhelming evidence.

Is it insane to believe that some GOP senators might have the guts to stop such a clearly problematic nominee? That like John McCain, they could make the Kavanaugh nomination their last stand against a party that has abandoned all sense of propriety and morals. While it might be unlikely, there is no denying that Donald Trump has provided the perfect opportunity for the dregs of the GOP to exercise their anemic values and go out with a bang.

In case Jeff Flake, Dean Heller, Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski happen to be reading this, here are all the reasons a vote against Kavanaugh would be a no-brainer. You know. If you care about ever having a career in politics again.

Kavanaugh Lied Under Oath

First off, let’s start here. Brett Kavanaugh has lied. Under oath. To Congress. This is a fact. And it was one we knew before the confirmation hearings even began.

In an article for Slate, Lisa Graves, a former chief counsel on nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee and Deputy Assistant General to the Department of Justice, outlines how Kavanaugh not only hid his involvement with stolen materials from GOP operative and aide Manuel Miranda in the early 2000s, he also lied about them under oath. Many claimed that this was an act of perjury, which looks particularly outrageous since Kavanaugh was involved in the prosecution of Bill Clinton for the same crime.

“Now we know that he procured his own confirmation to the federal bench by committing the same offense. And he did so not in a private case but in the midst of public hearings for a position of trust, for a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary.

His actions were dishonorable and dishonest.” – Lisa Graves

At the time of his confirmation hearing to the DC circuit court in 2006, Kavanaugh had every opportunity to come clean when he was questioned by Senator Kennedy. He could have said that he wasn’t aware the documents were stolen when he received them. If the Senate had obtained the emails, we have now that would have been a difficult argument to make since one of them has the subject line of “spying” and specifically refers to a “mole.”

Nevertheless, Kavanaugh didn’t even attempt to fabricate an excuse. He simply lied, first to Orrin Hatch in 2004 and then again to Ted Kennedy in 2006. Kavanaugh said he never received such emails. A fact we know now is absolutely untrue.

When Senator Patrick Leahy attempted to call Kavanaugh to account for his lies, Kavanaugh hedged. He claimed he had responded believing these were signed letters and had no way to know they were in fact stolen materials. Which is all fine and dandy except Brett’s already lied about this under oath. It’s not a crime to accept stolen materials, especially if you assert you were unaware of their origins. But it is a crime to lie about it. Repeatedly and under oath to Congress.

A decade ago, the GOP was willing to impeach a President for perjury. Now they want to elevate a judge to the Supreme Court who may have done the exact same thing. One would think the cognitive dissonance might resonant among Republicans, even at a time when they appear to be incapable of hearing anything but the siren song of another Supreme Court seat within their swampy grasp.

Kavanaugh Demonstrates Ideological Bias On The Bench

As we began weeding through documents and emails spanning Kavanaugh’s career last week that folks like Senator Cory Booker fought so hard to make public, one thing becomes clear. While he may claim his judicial moniker is “don’t be a jerk,” Brett Kavanaugh is doing an awfully good impression of one.

And it’s not just that he refused to shake the hand of a parent whose daughter, Jaime Guttenberg, was killed in the mass shooting at a Parkland high school. It’s what countless correspondence over the years have shown about Brett. He may play a nice guy on TV, but behind closed doors, he’s anything but.

During his tenure with the Bush administration, he bolstered the administration’s argument against racially conscious college admission. The body of his decisions on the bench indicates that, despite touting his diverse hiring practices, Kavanaugh’s rulings have consistently undermined efforts to protect workers from racial discrimination.

“Brett Kavanaugh’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is a myth, There is nothing in his legal record that would indicate anything other than a zealous opposition to remedies to racism, particularly affirmative action. … His opposition to race-conscious measures to ensure equal opportunity is particularly troubling.” – NAACP President Derrick Johnson

He’s also made some very racially charged statements in the past, including arguments that Hawaiians shouldn’t benefit from affirmative action, calling it a “naked racial spoils system.” In 1999 during an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, Kavanaugh said: “I see as an inevitable conclusion within the next 10 to 20 years when the court says we are all one race in the eyes of the government.”

While Kavanaugh may claim that half of his law clerks are women, he can’t erase decades of proof that he’s worked to undermine equality in America for minorities and women. And when it comes to women’s choice, Kavanaugh has said he wouldn’t interfere in the established legal precedent of Roe V. Wade, but emails show he’s questioned the law in the past.

Kavanaugh also appears to have been involved in coaching other judicial nominees on how to dodge questions about abortion in confirmation hearings to provide a false sense of their impartiality.

In addition to the clues hidden in the documents released last week, there is an abundance of proof in Kavanaugh’s judicial record that he would support restricting access to abortion. He dissented from the US Court of Appeals decision in Garza v Hargan, objecting to allowing a 17-year-old migrant in US custody to seek an abortion. And he’s refused when asked pointedly to say he would support Roe V. Wade and instead stuck to vague generalizations about following legal precedents.

Women’s rights organizations and activists have sounded the alarm bell, indicating Kavanaugh’s nomination could spell the end of Roe V Wade and undo decades of work in providing women bodily autonomy and access to birth control. Critics have called this hyperbole, but the evidence in Kavanaugh’s emails, judicial decisions, and his long-standing relationship with conservative groups speaks for itself. With a Brett Kavanaugh appointment to the Supreme Court, a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about what happens to her body would be in peril for the first time in nearly forty years.

Kavanaugh Has A Debt Problem

A brief dip into Brett Kavanaugh’s financials is a little terrifying because it’s clear something is definitely going on. In 2016, the judge had somewhere between $60,000-$200,000 worth of debt spread out on three different credit cards along with a personal loan. The White House explains it’s because Kavanaugh is a BIG fan of the Nationals and spent all that money on baseball season tickets for himself and his friends.

The kicker? In 2017 all that debt just disappears. Poof. Like magic. Kavanaugh claims that his friends paid him back for the tickets but the math, as you might expect, is difficult to make sense of. He would have had to front the costs for seven friends at the highest price level called “Dugout Premier” for season tickets to even touch 60K, reported to be the lower end of his debt threshold.

But wait. There’s more. The treasure trove of emails Republican tried so valiantly to hide contains more than just off-color jokes about rub-n-tugs. It also has details about a sailing weekend with Kavanaugh’s buddies where he apologizes for getting mad after blowing a dice game, implying he may have been too drunk to recall, and suggests everybody should keep a lid on this to avoid triggering “the spouses.”

Look. There’s nothing wrong with a little gambling. But the issue here is we’re looking at a Supreme Court nominee with questionable ethics whose financial stress might make him vulnerable to bribery. It’s easy to live beyond your means in DC, but a taste for the dice spells trouble for everyone and it’s the last thing we need in a Supreme Court judge.

The Rule Of Law

Last but not least we come to the most significant reason Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t come within shouting distance of a seat on the Supreme Court. He’s clearly stated he believes a sitting president cannot and should not be indicted. Just as worrisome were Kavanaugh’s comments on U.S. v. Nixon, captured in an article that was released along with thousands of other documents by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“But maybe Nixon was wrongly decided — heresy though it is to say so. Nixon took away the power of the president to control information in the executive branch by holding that the courts had power and jurisdiction to order the president to disclose information in response to a subpoena sought by a subordinate executive branch official. That was a huge step with implications to this day that most people do not appreciate sufficiently…Maybe the tension of the time led to an erroneous decision.”  Brett Kavanaugh, Transcript from January/February 1999 issue of Washington Lawyer

And there’s obviously a reason Donald Trump, otherwise known as Individual 1 and unindicted co-conspirator, is pretty invested in this particular ideology about executive power. It might, in fact, be the singular reason why Brett Kavanaugh sits before the Senate today as one of the worst candidates to ever have the privilege of being nominated to the Supreme Court.

In an America with a strong and independent judicial and legislative branch, the Senate wouldn’t be nominating someone like Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land. They’d be impeaching him. Sadly, this is no longer the country we live in under GOP leadership. Despite the fact that Kavanaugh may be the deciding vote about whether this President can pardon himself, the party of law and order will almost surely look away, embarrassed by their own reflection, and let Kavanaugh’s nomination pass in the name of fealty to their dear leader.

But I hold onto a slim hope that the facts of Kavanaugh’s record and his behavior during this hearing might stir some semblance of decency among senators like Collins, Murkowski, Flake or Heller who have little left to lose. This moment is much greater than party or personal legacy. It’s a decision that will resonate for decades, and it’s one that shouldn’t be stained by partisanship.

Opinion // Brett Kavanaugh / Donald Trump / Senate / Supreme Court