What You Need To Know About Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court Pick
If confirmed, Kavanaugh will be the most consequential appointment in decades.
The Pick: President Trump nominated D.C. District Court Of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy, who has been a consequential swing vote on the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would secure what conservatives expect to be a reliable 5th judge in the 5-4 conservative majority.
Kavanaugh’s Record: Kavanaugh, a Yale graduate, clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh was also the Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. In this position, Kavanaugh helped write the impeachment referral of President Bill Clinton where he argued broad grounds for impeaching a President – including lying to his staff and misleading the public. In 2009, after he began working as an aide for President George W. Bush, however, Kavanaugh changed his tune. Kavanaugh claimed that Clinton shouldn’t have been the subject of the investigation while in office and that indicting a sitting President “would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national-security crisis.” Kavanaugh expanded on this view:
In rethinking his views, Judge Kavanaugh wrote in 2009 in the Minnesota Law Review that Congress should pass laws that would protect a president from civil and criminal law suits until they are out of office. In any event, he said, there was always a way to remove a “bad-behaving or lawbreaking President.”
Kavanaugh dissented after a ruling on Garza v. Hargan was overturned, and wrote that it was not the constitutional right for “unlawful immigrant minors in US Government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand.”
ON ROE V. WADE — JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH was asked about the issue of abortion during his confirmation hearings to the DC Court of Appeals. He said he believes Roe v. Wade is binding precedent.
— Samantha-Jo Roth (@SamanthaJoRoth) July 10, 2018
The Future Of The Supreme Court: Kavanaugh’s confirmation would tip the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation, and will have wide-ranging ramifications for women’s reproductive rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, human rights in general, healthcare (pre-existing conditions), as well as the rule of law. The Supreme Court will likely have to make key decisions on the extent of presidential power, with rulings surrounding pardon power, compliance with subpoenas, and presidential immunity. Given how consequential Nixon v. United States was, this pick will likely determine the legal liability of President Trump. Although Kavanaugh did claim Roe was binding precedent, he has been cleared by the conservative Federalist Society, who is against the ruling.
As Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) signaled last week, she would oppose any nominee who has shown open hostility to Roe v. Wade. Given Kavanaugh’s ambiguous stance on Rode, pro-choice Senators like Collins, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and red state Democrats may use this as cover in order to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.