Trump nominated D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. While Justice Kennedy was widely viewed as the ideological center of the Court, serving as the swing vote for cases on vital issues like LGBTQ rights, Kavanaugh would lurch the Court to the extreme right if he were confirmed. Kavanaugh’s affable manner obscures his extreme views, which are anti-choice, anti-labor, and anti-regulation. With a voluminous paper trail, Kavanaugh has suggested that regulations addressing environmental dangers, protecting worker safety, and discouraging fraud and anticompetitive business conduct infringe individual liberties. In a similar vein, he opposes gun-safety rules. He has criticized Roe v. Wade, almost assuredly being a vote to overturn the 45-year-old precedent, and has voted to restrict voting rights by upholding a South Carolina voter ID law that disproportionately suppresses black turnout. On the high Court, Kavanaugh would help transform our country into one with a vastly more powerful chief executive and even more dominant corporate interests – while vastly narrowing rights for consumers and citizens.
Help us urge our Senators to oppose his confirmation.
One of the most troubling aspects of Kavanaugh’s nomination surrounds his “evolving” views on Presidential power. Although he spent much of his early legal career working for Independent Counsel Ken Starr on the Clinton-Whitewater-Lewinsky investigation, his later legal scholarship asserts that “[t]he indictment and trial of a sitting President . . . would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.”1 This statement is deeply concerning because it suggests that Kavanaugh believes a sitting President should be immune from criminal liability for private actions – a viewpoint disturbingly similar to Trump’s consistent assertions that he is above the law.
Beyond working for partisan Ken Starr, Kavanaugh also worked within President George W. Bush’s White House, where he participated in conversations about the rule of law for detained enemy combatants in places like Guantanamo Bay. Following that work, President George W. Bush nominated him to a position on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. After a contentious confirmation hearing, Senator Dick Durbin wrote a letter to Judge Kavanaugh inquiring as to why he misled the Senate Judiciary Committee on his knowledge of the Bush-era detention policies2. Kavanaugh has never responded to Senator Durbin’s inquiry.
As a Judge, Kavanaugh’s most extreme views concern the federal regulatory scheme, which he appears to consider fundamentally illegitimate. He has criticized decades-old precedent establishing a degree of judicial deference to the expertise of independent federal agencies. Using reasoning that could apply across the full range of these agencies, he has written that the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau threaten individual liberty. He believes in general that independent federal agencies should have diminished independence from the President as well as diminished powers to protect the public from corporate malfeasance. Implementation of his views would sharply curtail the broad regulatory protections Americans currently enjoy.
Kavanaugh would be a dangerous addition to the Supreme Court. Although he may be personable, his record speaks to extremist views that would cause the Court to lurch to the far-right. Additionally, Kavanaugh is relatively young, meaning that his confirmation would establish a far-right majority on the high Court for several decades to come.
Contact Your Senators
Proposed script: I urge you to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. His partisan record and extreme views on abortion, healthcare, and other fundamental progressive issues are highly troubling. Additionally, Judge Kavanaugh’s statements regarding Presidential power make it clear that he would enable the Trump Administration’s extremist agenda and that he would fail to hold the President accountable for criminal actions. These statements disqualify him from the Supreme Court. Please vote NO on Brett Kavanaugh.
Sen. Mark Warner
DC: (202) 224-2023; Abingdon: (276) 628-8158; Norfolk: (757) 441-3079; Richmond: (804) 775-2314; Roanoke: (540) 857-2676; Vienna: (703) 442-0670
Sen. Tim Kaine
DC: (202) 224-4024; Abingdon: (276) 525-4790; Danville: (434) 792-0976; Manassas: (703) 361-3192; Richmond: (804) 771-2221; Roanoke: (540) 682-5693; Virginia Beach: (757) 518-1674
1 Brett M. Kavanaugh, Separation of Powers During the Forty-Fourth Presidency and Beyond, 93 Minn. L. Rev. 1454, 1461 (2009).