Opinion | Muftic: Justice Kavanaugh will have much to prove
Confirmed to the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh will have much to prove. He will have a challenge in gaining the respect he believes he deserves. His confirmation by the Senate was approved by one of the narrowest of margins in recent history, including Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation. An Axios/Survey Monkey poll Oct. 3-4, showed him with a 50 percent disapproval of voters. Only 36 percent of women approved of confirming him indicating problems down the line for the GOP already suffering from a 20-point gender gap.
Many of his Yale and Harvard peers, once supportive, opposed him after his angry testimony in rebuttal to Dr. Blasey Ford’s credible accusations before the Senate Judiciary. Even those related to Kavanaugh’s religion, a Jesuit publication, reversed its endorsement and urged that he not be confirmed. These are “no left wing dark money groups” and their opposition is based mostly on his non-judicial temperament. While much of this arose from his heated appearance before the Senate Judiciary committee, others date to 2006 when the American Bar Association downgraded his evaluation in 2006 because of his dishonesty and temperament, later giving him glowing approval, and then supporting the extra FBI investigation after his appearance before the Judiciary committee.
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a Republican, added his voice to those opposing his confirmation. In 2018, on the eve of the confirmation vote, 2,400 law school professors opposed him because of temperament. Yale drinking buddies attested to his extreme drinking problems. Eight-hundred Harvard Law School alums pressured Harvard to drop him as a lecturer. The National Council of Churches opposed his confirmation,too.
When a political operative with an ideological agenda enters the Supreme Court, will the Court be damaged? Politics and party affiliation have always been involved in Court confirmations. However, Brett Kavanaugh’s partisan rant at the hearing, embracing extreme conspiracy theories, unmasked his real political self. Coupled with a record of extreme views on executive powers, birth control, and choice expressed in writings and addresses to various groups, he was not just any Republican, but a hard core ideologue with beliefs about specific issues that are likely to come before the Court. Sen. Susan Collins claimed of his rulings in lower courts she reviewed they did not reflect that extremism; let us hope that continues while he is on the bench. The challenge for Chief Justice Roberts will be how the Court will maintain a legitimacy in the eyes of the public as an impartial arbiter of what is and what is not constitutional. Or will the Supreme Court become seen and dismissed as a tool of like minded ideologues who see the Court as a way to implement their policy agenda?
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the critical vote in his confirmation, believes Kavanaugh will not try to overturn Roe v Wade. He views that as settled law, a precedent to be honored, he told her. However, to overturn Roe v Wade was the top priority of Donald Trump’s base. How does that work? At least 70 percent of voters polled by Pew Research oppose overturning Roe v Wade. Will Roberts prove to be the swing to keep the Court’s reputation as an impartial arbiter, or will Collins have been fooled? What will happen if the Mueller investigation implicates Pres. Trump and the Court will have to rule on whether a president can be subpoenaed or if he can pardon himself? How will Kavanaugh rule, he who even does not believe a sitting President should be the subject of a criminal investigation. Roberts will find his leadership sorely tested if he wants to keep the Supreme Court a respected and legitimate institution.
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