The president nominates DC Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh after Justice Anthony Kennedy announces retirement
WITH the retirement of Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Justice Anthony Kennedy, Trump has nominated a conservative circuit court judge to fill the vacant seat, signalling the first steps in potentially affirming the court’s conservative lean for years to come.
On Monday, July 9, Trump nominated United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Brett Michael Kavanaugh as Kennedy’s replacement, calling Kavanaugh “one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time” who would apply the U.S. Constitution “as written.”
Upon his nomination, Kavanaugh, 53, promised that he would “keep an open mind in every case” and reiterated that the job of the Supreme Court justice is to “interpret the law, not make the law.”
Kavanaugh, who once clerked for Kennedy, has deep ties with conservatives and GOP legal organizations that have lobbied for the appointments of conservative justices.
As soon as Kennedy announced his retirement in late June, top congressional leaders have vowed to oppose any Trump nominee deemed too extreme on certain issues.
Kennedy was also a conservative, but he often held the swing vote in many socially divisive cases like abortion and reproductive health, affirmative action, workers rights, LGBT rights and the death penalty. Replacing Kennedy with a more stalwart conservative would definitively solidify the conservative slant and put at risk many long-standing social justice cases.
Notably, Kennedy’s retirement signalled the possible overturning of the landmark SCOTUS case Roe v. Wade, which granted a person’s right to have an abortion before the third trimester of pregnancy.
But one of Kavanaugh’s case history finds him voting against his party. In 2011, he ruled against a challenge to the Affordable Care Act because he felt that the DC court lacked the jurisdiction to consider the case in question, an opinion that was ill-received by Republicans.
In 2015, he riled up social conservatives by rulings in favor of abortion. In the case Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he ruled in favor of a contraception mandate that would require employers to offer health insurance plans that included contraception and sterilization.
He also ruled in favor in a Jane Doe case wherein an undocumented immigrant teenager requested an abortion while in federal custody.
Because of these cases, the pro-life movement have also criticized Kavanaugh’s nomination, saying that the circuit court judge isn’t ardent enough in the anti-abortion movement. March for Life, for example, argued that Kavanaugh lacked the “backbone” to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The American Family Association, a socially conservative pro-life organization, for example, denounced the nomination for not being more steadfast on behalf of the pro-life movement.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s reasoning on religious liberty, Obamacare and issues concerning life have proven to be of major concern,” The AFA said in a statement calling for citizens to contact their senators to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination.
In order to be confirmed as a justice, Kavanaugh will need to garner 51 votes from the Senate.
Senate Democrat Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York vowed that “I will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have.”
Schumer added, “Enormously important issues hang in the balance. The right of workers to organize, the pernicious influence of dark money in our policy, the right of Americans to marry whom they love, the right to vote.”
Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who blocked former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016, expressed approval of Kavanaugh’s nomination but worries that the road to confirmation will be a tough one. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)