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System Failure

Randi Turkin 7 months ago

Trump’s nominee to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy is the ultra-conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The announcement made by our fearless leader has liberals and Democrats up in arms, preparing for a confirmation process that is certain to focus on two areas: Roe v Wade and the Affordable Care Act.

Kavanaugh is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In 2003 he was nominated to this position by President George W. Bush. But his confirmation hearings were contentious due to charges of partisanship. He was finally confirmed three years later in 2006 on a 10-8 party-line vote after a series of negotiations between Democratic and Republican senators. Justice Kennedy, for whom Kavanaugh had previously clerked, swore him in.

Here’s where it gets interesting:

  • In 2007 Kavanaugh was accused of misleading the Senate’s nominating committee regarding his involvement in formulating the detention and interrogation policies of the Bush White House in the aftermath of 9/11. So… does that mean he helped create a torture program? Doesn’t our president believe in torture as an interrogation technique?
  • In 2009 Kavanaugh wrote an article for the Minnesota Law Review in which he argued that U.S. presidents should be exempt from “time-consuming and distracting” lawsuits and investigations. How convenient for Trump as Mueller hires more prosecutors and the indictments continue to fall on his most loyal servants.
  • In 2014 Kavanaugh wrote for a panel that tried to strike down a Clean Air Act regulation which was later reversed by the Supreme Court. We all know Trump could care less about clean air, or the environment at large.
  • Most recently, in October 2017, Kavanaugh was involved in a case that prevented an undocumented teenage girl from receiving an abortion. By the time the case reached its end and she was permitted to leave the Office of Refugee Resettlement, she was in her second trimester before she could get the procedure. In the coming years, if Trump and his Evangelicals get their way (which seems more and more likely), a woman may not have the choice to terminate a pregnancy at all.

Democrats are concerned about what will happen to the Affordable Care Act and Roe v Wade with Kavanaugh at the helm, but research of his past cases in these two areas suggests that he rules more pragmatically than ideologically. That may result in disappointment for the conservative Federalist Society, a group whose ideology leans far right and who also provided the list of names that Trump ultimately used when he chose Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court at the beginning of his presidency. Making that list of names public during the 2016 campaign was a move that helped Trump win the presidency.

Is this a total system failure of our democracy? Have our checks and balances gone out the window so that Trump will get everything he wants? We have a Republican Congress who won’t stand up to Trump’s bullying of, well, everyone, except our sworn enemies. We have a Supreme Court that is very likely going to rule in a conservative direction. And we have a president in the White House who is impulsive and inexperienced with a slew of scandals and investigations in progress at this very moment.

At what point will the pendulum swing back to the middle? We could all use a little balance.


Original portrait of Trump in feature photo by Nicole Jeffords