Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Poster Boy for the Supreme Court, But Will He Follow Kennedy's Lead To Protect Rights


If you could judge a judge nominated to be a justice of the Supreme Court merely from his public acceptance speech Brett Kavanaugh would be confirmed in a heartbeat. Unanimously. 

Sure, he spoke in hyperbole when he proclaimed Donald Trump’s “appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary. No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” 

Donald Trump sought out the most diverse input before making a selection? Really!?! 

Just how many progressive voices did the divider-in-chief invite to the White House or to one of his golf or resort properties to discuss the qualities he should look for in a justice for life? No doubt he talked to gun lobbyists, and big business lobbyists, and anti-abortion lobbyists, and anti-immigration lobbyists, and anti-environment lobbyists. By lobbyists I am including elected Republican officials for they have, in effect, become part of the partisan network, rather than staying independent in their evaluation of issues and candidates. 

Let’s call it the Trump Effect. It is difficult to cite any action his administration has taken that has not rolled back advances in the quality of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans and peoples of the world. Even as he espoused his dedication to life Trump pursued a measure at the World Health Organization that would undercut the health of newborns by advocating feeding them infant formula rather than breast milk which is universally considered the best food they could consume. 

Judge Kavanaugh outwardly seems like a nice, all-American guy. A little shy and awestruck at the podium, gushing over his parents, daughters and wife. Young enough to coach his daughter’s basketball team. Not ramrod straight like Neil Gorsuch but someone fluid enough to tease his younger daughter about her incessant talking and have her be okay with it in front of a national audience. 

Just irresistible. Who wouldn’t want this dad to parse legal conflict for us all? (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-announcing-judge-brett-m-kavanaugh-nominee-associate-jus)

Kavanaugh clerked for his predecessor Justice Anthony Kennedy, as did Gorsuch. It has been said that Kennedy opted for retirement at this moment so a Republican president and GOP-majority Senate could pick and confirm a successor in his image.  

One wonders if Kavanaugh absorbed Kennedy’s compassion for the privacy rights of women and gay communities. Gorsuch apparently didn’t. He seems to be more in line with the originalist doctrines of Antonin Scalia whose seat he now occupies because Republicans blocked the centrist jurist Merrick Garland nominated by Barack Obama.

It will be up to Kavanaugh to sustain rights Kennedy protected. As Gorsuch has shown, clerks do not always agree with their bosses. 

If you didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, or if you wasted your vote on a symbolic alternative candidate like Jill Stein, you relinquished the right to complain about Trump’s selection of his second Supreme Court justice and the near hundred lower court federal judges who will shape the direction of the country for decades. 

Forget about protesting or expecting Democrats to thwart his nominations. They don’t have the votes, not in the Senate now and, thanks to you and likeminded fools, not in November 2016. 

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