President Donald Trump surprised quite a few analysts when he announced that his nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court bench is Brett Kavanaugh. The 53-year-old Kavanaugh is, as Trump is often fond of saying, straight from central casting. He is a graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, clerked for Justice Kennedy, and was in the George H.W. Bush administration as a solicitor. He’s also sat on the D.C. Circuit Court for a dozen years. Yet with all of that going for him, no one really expected him to be the pick.
The far right definitely isn’t sold on Kavanaugh yet. Even Mitch McConnell expressed concern over Kavanaugh even being on the short list of nominees, much less the final pick. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D) once referred to him as “The Forrest Gump of Republican politics.” Part of the GOP argues he isn’t far enough to the right. Some of the party moderates complain he is too far left. Of the three candidates under consideration, Kavanaugh was undoubtedly the most middle of the road. That in no way means he is an actual moderate, just that he is compared to the competition.
The other side of the coin is that Kavanaugh has an extremely lengthy history of decisions to go through. He has been around beltway politics a long time. Even with a sherpa to guide him, the confirmation process can become extremely lengthy, which is not ideal considering Trump and his allies want someone on the bench ASAP, at least before November elections.
As reported by Vox, Kavanaugh will have problems with some GOP members because he once voted in favor of an individual’s right to an abortion, spoken out regarding impeachment while on the Starr investigation team in ways that should make Trump shiver, and voted in dissent on the Seven-Sky v. Holder case regarding the ACA which made Republicans livid. Some are rumored to still hold a grudge over it.
He has also had three major decisions on religious liberty which directly contradict the orthodoxy of the current administration, but overall, he is pro-religion, just not as much as he is pro-gun which is why the NRA gives Kavanaugh the green light. Kavanaugh also tends to vote in favor of big business, and has stated he feels the Fourth Amendment needs to be updated to favor law enforcement, not to protect private citizens.
Within minutes of the announcement, support and dissent were both voiced quickly and vigorously as could be seen at The Guardian, where comments from various politicians were live-streamed. While there was some support, the likes of Corey Booker voiced their disapproval.
“His nomination should be a non-starter for every member of the Senate concerned about the integrity of the special counsel’s investigation and worried about the Court undermining the rights of women to make their own medical decisions; civil rights; the rights of Americans to quality, affordable healthcare; voting rights; the rights of workers to organize for better wages and working conditions; and more.”
All told, Kavanaugh is a controversial pick, and he certainly is not the easiest to get through confirmation hearings, but unless the Democrats can somehow drag out or block the process, or a few key Republicans flip, by all accounts, Brett Kavanaugh will be sitting bench on the Supreme Court by year’s end.