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A guide to Trump's extremist Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh

Trump nominated extremist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in an attempt to make far-right ideology the law of the land.

By Oliver Willis - July 10, 2018
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Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh

Trump nominated ultra-conservative Brett Kavanaugh, currently a United States District Court judge, to replace outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

The selection was the culmination of Trump’s campaign to pick a nominee with “all-American” looks to leave his imprint on the court along with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch.

Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have pushed for a quick confirmation for Kavanaugh. McConnell would not allow the nomination of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court left vacant when Justice Antonin Scalia died, to have a single hearing, let alone a vote.

Under the McConnell Rule, which Republicans invented in 2016, they argued that a president cannot appoint a Supreme Court justice in a election year. They have now said the rule does not apply to Trump’s pick, even though 2018 is also an election year.

In rolling out the nomination, the Trump administration was unable to find any women to endorse his nominee. Of the 107 women in Congress, 29 are Republicans — and yet not one of them spoke favorably about Kavanaugh after his nomination was announced.

The announcement of Kavanaugh’s nomination was a ratings embarrassment for Trump. Despite reports that he made the announcement in prime time to help the TV ratings of adviser and friend Sean Hannity, 8 million fewer people tuned in to watch Kavanaugh compared to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch.

Kavanaugh and the Federalist Society

Kavanaugh is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, the right-wing organization designed to further conservative ideals inside America’s judicial system.

The Federalist Society, of which White House counsel Don McGahn is also a member, prepared the list of its approved candidates, from which Trump selected his Supreme Court pick. Trump also used this list when he appointed Gorsuch last year.

The Federalist Society stamp of approval means that Kavanaugh has been vetted by the far-right — without a single public hearing — to guarantee that he will be opposed to abortion and other health care rights, LGBTQ rights, labor rights, voting rights, and several key issues within the conservative cause.

While Kavanaugh is likely to give evasive answers during his confirmation hearing about where he stands, the Federalist Society’s support signals to Republicans that they don’t need to be concerned about what he says under oath. He will be with them in the court.

Kavanaugh and the Mueller investigation

As Trump puts forth his second Supreme Court nomination, special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump’s 2016 campaign and a number of his closest advisers for associating with Russian elements who sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Kavanaugh is already on record arguing for Congress to enact “a law exempting a President — while in office — from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel,” claiming it would be distracting and bad for the country.

He further wrote:

The indictment and trial of a sitting President, moreover, would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis. Even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation— including preparing for questioning by criminal investigators— are time-consuming and distracting. Like civil suits, criminal investigations take the President’s focus away from his or her responsibilities to the people. And a President who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as President.

The pick highlights Trump’s concerns about the ongoing Mueller investigation — and any potential indictments and trials in his future. In choosing a nominee who thinks presidents should be exempt from prosecution while in office, Trump revealed his strategy of protecting his own personal interests first and foremost in making this selection.

Opposition to Kavanaugh nomination

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer came out in opposition to the nomination and said he “will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have.”

The reproductive rights group NARAL opposes Kavanaugh’s nomination, calling him “a reliable vote to end Roe v. Wade, criminalize abortion, and punish women.”

Planned Parenthood called on the Senate to oppose Kavanaugh, pointing out that he has already ruled against access to abortion and birth control.

Kavanaugh’s nomination is opposed by the NAACP, who highlighted his hostility to “hard-won gains securing equal opportunity in education, employment and housing.”

Kavanaugh and Trump

In his first public statement after being officially nominated, Kavanaugh praised Trump and made the clearly false claim that Trump intensely vetted nominees for the court.

“No president has ever consulted more widely or talked to more people from more backgrounds to seek input for a Supreme Court nomination,” Kavanaugh said, despite the fact that Trump outsourced his vetting to the Federalist Society.

Kavanaugh’s gun extremism

Kavanaugh is a gun extremist who has argued that bans on semiautomatic weapons, like those used in the Parkland and Columbine massacres, are not constitutional. He even went so far as to claim bans on assault weapons are comparable to restrictions on free speech.

His extremist position pleases the NRA, who used its propaganda network NRA TV to promote commentary supporting Kavanaugh’s gun position.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal highlighted his dangerous position in remarks addressed to Parkland.

“If you care about common sense gun violence protection,” he said, “Judge Kavanaugh is your worst nightmare.”


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