A dose (or a dozen) of perspective on Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's new nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. The 53-year-old D.C. appeals court judge once clerked for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy—a fact that may have eased Kennedy's fears about retiring (…or maybe not)—and has strengths and weaknesses from a libertarian perspective. Here's what we know (and don't know) so far about Kavanaugh's judicial leanings, along with a healthy side of speculation from folks across the partisan spectrum.
Democratic senators such as Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have been throwing all sorts of Kavanaugh alarm around to see what sticks—he's a "right-wing ideologue" (says Markey) who has been "screened and vetted by extreme right-wing groups" (Blumenthal), a puppet of corporations, or the Koch Brothers, or…something. Something bad.
Much of the criticism isn't aimed at Kavanaugh per se but at the allegedly crooked process that got us here. The crux of this strained argument is that Trump considered the recommendations put forth by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization (or "a small, secretive network of extremely conservative Catholic activists," if you're feeling hystrionic like The Daily Beast's Jay Michaelson).
.@SenBobCasey said he cannot support a "corrupt" process that has led to the president picking from a list of 25 candidates "funded by the corporate right." https://t.co/JSQw49q6o9 #StopKavanaugh #NoSCOTUSvote
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) July 10, 2018
But there's no shortage of fear—and praise—from the respective sides for Kavanaugh's record on actual constitutional issues, including gun rights, speech issues, and due process.
Brett Kavanaugh is a true Second Amendment radical. He believes assault weapon bans are unconstitutional, a position way out of the judicial mainstream, far to the right of even late Justice Scalia.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) July 10, 2018
Kavanaugh is "receptive to cases that challenge gun control laws" and also "sensitive to the constitutional implications of regulations that interfere with freedom of speech," noted Reason's Jacob Sullum last week. But "Kavanaugh seems to take a narrower view of Fourth Amendment rights."
"Many observers have suggested that President Trump will try to replace Justice Kennedy with a jurist 'in the mold' of Antonin Scalia, or perhaps of Scalia's successor, Neil Gorsuch," Reason's Damon Root pointed out over the weekend. But with Kavanaugh, we "may well end up with a jurist in the mold of John Roberts."
Fun fact: A year before SCOTUS decided Citizens United, Trump's Supreme Court pick—Brett Kavanaugh—sided with Emily's List against the @FEC that the pro-choice nonprofit shouldn't be required to pay for election-related activities with "hard money" subject to donation limits. pic.twitter.com/KGFXmY5OlK
— Anna Massoglia (@annalecta) July 10, 2018
The New York Times editorial board frets that "Judge Kavanaugh would shift the balance of constitutional jurisprudence to the right, creating a solid right-wing majority on the court possibly until the second half of the 21st century," and leaving Roberts "as the fulcrum for the court."
But the paper also published a range of perspectives on Trump's pick, including this from liberal Yale Law School professor Akhil Reed Amar:
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice is President Trump's finest hour, his classiest move. Last week the president promised to select "someone with impeccable credentials, great intellect, unbiased judgment, and deep reverence for the laws and Constitution of the United States." In picking Judge Kavanaugh, he has done just that.
In addition, the Times notes that Kavanaugh "once argued that President Bill Clinton could be impeached for lying to his staff and misleading the public, a broad definition of obstruction of justice that would be damaging if applied to President Trump in the Russia investigation."
Here's what libertarian-leaning types—plus everyone's new favorite socialist—have been saying:
Kavanaugh is not another Gorsuch—not even close. Disappointing pick, particularly with respect to his #4thAmendment record. Future decisions on the constitutionality of government surveillance of Americans will be huge. We can't afford a rubber stamp for the executive branch.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) July 10, 2018
I look forward to the upcoming hearings, reviewing the record, and meeting personally with Judge Kavanaugh, with an open mind.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 10, 2018
— Ilya Shapiro (@ishapiro) July 10, 2018
The fact that #ScotusPick Kavanuaugh believes that a President cannot be indicted is an automatic disqualification from Supreme Court consideration.
Plain and simple. https://t.co/3h2k2rTYVI
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) July 10, 2018
D.C. Council may repeal minimum wage for tipped workers. Initiative 77, approved by D.C. voters in June, would raise the minimum wage for waiters, bartenders, and other workers paid partially in tips to $15 per hour by 2026, up from $3.33 currently. But it might not make it into law. WTOP reports:
A bill to repeal the measure is being discussed and could be introduced during a council meeting on Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.
The measure is expected to be sponsored by at least six council members—including Mendelson—who have publicly denounced the measure.
Opponents believe the measure will force restaurants to raise menu prices, reduce their staff and lead to less take-home pay for servers. Supporters argue that the initiative will reduce worker mistreatment and give them a steady income.
He's been on quite the roll this week…
Thank you to all of my great supporters, really big progress being made. Other countries wanting to fix crazy trade deals. Economy is ROARING. Supreme Court pick getting GREAT REVIEWS. New Poll says Trump, at over 90%, is the most popular Republican in history of the Party. Wow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason. They are merely taking advantage of the poor & others unable to defend themselves, while at the same time giving bargain basement prices to other countries in Europe & elsewhere. We will respond!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out. The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
- A judge rebuffs the Trump administration's request for permission to detain immigrant children longer.
- Tennesse's "free college" program "is turning out to be a middle-class entitlement."
- Who could have guessed that the head of San Bernadino's "Hardcore Gang Unit" doesn't hold the most racially enlightened views?
- D.C. debates whether cashless businesses should be illegal.
- The World Health Organization now officially recognizes both gaming addiction and sex addiction as diseases.
- In "the largest study of the health of transgender individuals on hormone therapy ever done," researcher found that transgender women taking synthetic hormones have an elevated risk of strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots. The same did not hold true for transgender men.
- Ethiopia and Eritrea have reached an end to two decades of conflict, with leaders of the countries agreeing to a "Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship" and the renewal of economic and diplomatic ties. On Sunday, direct phone service between the countries resumed. "The pace of normalisation of relations between the two countries has been truly stunning," writes Abraham T Zere at Al Jazeera.