President Donald Trump revealed his nominee to appoint to the highest court in the land Monday — Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who currently serves on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Kavanaugh’s pedigree for this nomination could not have been more textbook: He has a law degree from Yale, paired with extensive judicial history, as well as sitting on the most influential appeals court in the nation. He also clerked for the outgoing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose seat he hopes to fill. Reactions have been swift and divided by members of both parties.
Hysteria over Kavanaugh’s nomination is unfounded and excitement should be limited, especially for any pro-life groups that hoped to see Roe v. Wade go to the chopping block.
Conservatives should be wary; Kavanaugh will not be another ultra-conservative justice, like Neil Gorsuch.
Despite being renowned for his involvement in conservative politics, Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy is lacking on key issues.
In his 2006 confirmation hearings he stated that he would aim to uphold the Roe v. Wade decision, stating it had already “been decided by the Supreme Court”. His legal opinions also demonstrate a strict interpretation of the 4th Amendment, putting the protections of citizens from unwarranted searches and seizures at risk.
While his opinions on regulation and religious freedom indicate respect for limiting government involvement in the economy and in compelling speech, there is significant concern from the right. Kavanaugh may focus more on cobbling together majority decisions whether the issue is resolved or not. This means that important questions that should be answered in the courts, like discrimination and gerrymandering, will instead be left in limbo.
The prospect of another Trump Supreme Court nominee produced widespread concern regarding the future of the court. It was unsurprising when, before Trump announced his pick, protestors had already lined the steps of the Supreme Court building in Washington.
The protestors came from far and wide, prepared with pre-printed and fill-in-the-blank signs for any nominees that might have emerged, it became evident that the fight was not to block a specific or truly extreme nominee, it was to block any GOP nominee.
Perhaps the most abhorrent example was the pre-written press release from the Women’s March which condemned nominee “XX” as “a death sentence for thousands of women in the United States”.
These fights are purely partisan and truly harmful to otherwise real discussions about the qualifications of a judicial candidate to the most important court in the nation. It is this kind of divisiveness that Democrats must avoid, if they expect to be taken seriously in Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
Previous use of the nuclear rule paired with almost-perfect party line voting during now Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation will limit Democrats’ ability to push back against another partisan confirmation with Kavanaugh. In a mid-term year, with a candidate in the flavor of George Bush-vanilla, the stakes are heavy and the margin of error are limited.
Supreme Court nominations are rare. Former Presidents, George W. Busch and Barack Obama, nominated a total of four over the course of 16 years, with two nominations each. Trump is on his second in two years and he anticipates as many as three more before he leaves office.
While many Republicans will quietly mourn the decision to pass over a more activist conservative, they should now rally around a man who — if given the opportunity — will become an intellectual leader on the court, for better or for worse. Democrats are now faced with a political choice: continue to push party-line fights or take the first step toward a unified political arena.
Aida Vazquez-Soto is a junior majoring in political science.