Reason Roundup

Everyone Hates Brett Kavanaugh, Everyone Loves Brett Kavanaugh: Reason Roundup

Plus: D.C. wage law for tipped workers faces challenges, and Trump suggests kneecapping Pfizer.


screenshots from Trump speech announcing Kavanaugh

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).

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.

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."

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:


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…