From the President
July 12, 2018: The Legitimacy of the Court and the Rule of Law is at Risk
Posted on December 11, 2023 at 12:00 AM
Democrats pride themselves on being fair and even-handed. The nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last year generated a lot of discussion, even alarm, but many argued that he was not likely to be too extreme. They have been proven wrong. The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, should definitely cause alarm. He comes with a decidedly conservative record, is a former aide to President George W. Bush, and was involved with the investigation of President Bill Clinton and the 2000 Florida recount. He was chosen from a list carefully curated by the Federalist Society. His confirmation will cement the court’s rightward tilt for a generation.
In a revealing speech last fall, Kavanaugh exposed his views, lauding Chief Justice Rehnquist for dissenting in Roe v Wade and for rejecting the notion of a “wall of separation between church and state.” He also expressed his support for eliminating the “exclusionary rule,” which forbids police from using illegally obtained evidence. The five areas he cited where he stood with Rehnquist against the liberals – “criminal justice, religion, federalism, enumerated rights and administrative law” – would all move the law to the extreme right. In addition, he has expressed his support for the unfettered power of the presidency. According to one academic analysis, Kavanaugh would be the second most conservative Justice on the Court—to the right even of Gorsuch and pretty close to Clarence Thomas.
Justice Kennedy, who is retiring, held the swing vote in many closely divided cases on issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, and the death penalty. 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. Democrats need to stay resolute in their opposition and persuade Democratic Senators in swing states as well as Republican Senators such as Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to vote NO. This nomination should be seen as what it is, a “power grab by a radicalized political party, its wealthy backers, and a rogue President.” The Supreme Court should not be a partisan tool for undermining democracy. The emergence of a partisan bench that is designed to keep power in the hands of Republicans by any means necessary is bad for the country and the legitimacy of the Court.