PRESIDENT Donald Trump has just appointed a second Supreme Court Nominee on the second year of his presidency after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in June.
Less than three months before the consequential midterm elections that may swing the balance of power in Congress, Trump immediately nominated conservative Brett Kavanaugh, 53, on Monday, July 9, in true Trump reality TV show fanfare.
Kavanaugh is a judge on the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, who worked with Special Prosecutor Ken Starr on the Monica Lewinsky investigation during the 1990s, during which, according to a Newsweek report, President Bill Clinton was almost impeached.
As the New York Times reported, Justice Kennedy held the swing vote in many contentious cases on issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights and the death penalty. The Times said “replacing him with a committed conservative, who could potentially serve for decades, will fundamentally alter the balance of the court and put dozens of precedents at risk.”
Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell hailed Kavanaugh’s appointment as a “superb choice” made by Trump, calling the judge a “superb nominee”
In a statement, McConnell said, “Judge Kavanaugh has sterling academic credentials. He is widely admired for his intellect, experience, and exemplary judicial temperament. He has won the respect of his peers and is highly regarded throughout the legal community. And his judicial record demonstrates a firm understanding of the role of a judge in our Republic: Setting aside personal views and political preferences in order to interpret our laws as they are written.”
With Republicans occupying 51 Senate seats and Democrats 49 seats, the GOP expects Kavanaugh to be confirmed by the Senate, unless some Republican senators like Susan Collins of Maine, go against Trump’s nominee because of the threat of repealing Roe v. Wade, which gives women the right over their own body and reproductive system.
BUT Kavanaugh will face fierce opposition among Democrats. “I will oppose Kavanaugh ‘with everything I’ve got,’” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed.
In a statement, Schumer said, “In selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, President Trump has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block.”
“His own writings make clear that he would rule against reproductive rights and freedoms, and that he would welcome challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare).
Meanwhile, Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said, “The coming Senate debate over the replacement of retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is about the future of Roe v. Wade, campaign finance reform, voting rights, workers’ rights, health care, climate change, environmental protection and gun safety.”
While we expected Trump to pick a conservative nominee as he promised during the presidential campaign, Democrats warn that Trump’s decision to nominate Kavanaugh from among 25 names on Trump’s list could be self-serving, especially in light of the Mueller investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections to discredit his opponent Hillary Clinton and help Trump win.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who heads the Russia probe, has already indicted several people, which includes Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Mueller wants to question Trump, and the long negotiations are still ongoing, with the Trump team hoping to delay the president’s “participation” despite his previous statement saying he would cooperate in the investigation because he is innocent and has nothing to hide.
Democrats opine that Trump chose Kavanaugh primarily because of his advocacy that a sitting president should be immune from criminal investigation.
Newsweek reported: “Writing for the Minnesota Law Review in 2012, in an article titled “Separation of Powers During the Forty-Fourth Presidency and Beyond,” Kavanaugh said his experience working for the Bush White House made him realize being president is “far more difficult than any other civilian position in government.”
“It frankly makes being a member of Congress or the judiciary look rather easy by comparison,” Kavanaugh wrote. “The decisions a President must make are hard and often life-or-death, the pressure is relentless, the problems arise from all directions, the criticism is unremitting and personal, and at the end of the day only one person is responsible.”
The Newsweek article further stated “Kavanaugh acknowledges this is not the view he held in the 1990s when he was working towards President Clinton’s impeachment over the affair with Lewinsky, a White House intern. But he now believes, after working for over five years in the Bush White House, that Congress should pass a law giving presidents immunity from civil suits and criminal investigations and prosecutions until they leave office.”
Sanders denounced Kavanaugh’s positions on the power of the presidency. “He believes a president can only be indicted after he leaves office and should not be subjected to civil suits while in office. I do not believe a person with those views should be given a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.”
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos