Judge Kavanaugh Has a Clear Agenda — Republicans in Congress Just Don’t Want You to Know What it is

Sen. Maggie Hassan
Sep 10, 2018 · 5 min read

Last week, as Judge Brett Kavanaugh sat before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for hearings on his nomination to serve on the Supreme Court, he claimed, “I have no agenda in any direction.”

Unfortunately, the facts make clear that that is simply not true.

I have watched Judge Kavanaugh’s responses to my colleagues during his nomination hearings. I have examined his judicial writings and past public statements. I have also reviewed the limited number of documents that Republicans agreed to share with the American people about Judge Kavanaugh’s time working in the White House, as well as many of those documents that Republicans, with no reasonable justification, would only allow Senators to review behind closed doors — and won’t let us share with the public.

What the totality of this record makes abundantly clear is that on issue after issue, Judge Kavanaugh has promoted a judicial philosophy that diminishes the rights of individuals, particularly women and people of color; puts corporations before people; and promotes a partisan right-wing ideology at odds with the will of the American people.

Since the early days of his campaign, President Trump indicated that he would only nominate someone to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and he meant it. On the issue of reproductive rights and a woman’s right to chart her own destiny, Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly tried to dodge and mislead. However, none of his judicial opinions or comments indicate that he believes Roe v. Wade was rightly decided or that he would respect Roe’s precedent if he had the opportunity to do so. In documents made public despite attempts by Republicans on the committee to withhold them, we see that as a staffer in the Bush White House, Judge Kavanaugh challenged whether it was accurate to say that Roe v. Wade is the “settled law of the land.” Writing in an email, “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.” As recently as last year, Judge Kavanaugh praised the dissent from Justice Rehnquist in Roe v. Wade, stating that Justice Rehnquist “was successful in stemming the general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of enumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.”

The new “enumerated rights” that Judge Kavanagh apparently thinks go too far include a woman’s right to control her own body. In his hearing last week, Judge Kavanaugh reaffirmed just how hostile he is toward women’s reproductive freedom and how out of touch he is with the importance of preventative health care — and not to mention, science — when he referred to birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs.” When the freedom, health, and economic well-being of more than 50 percent of our population are at stake, we cannot let Republicans in Congress, the Trump Administration, or Judge Kavanaugh himself deceive the American people into thinking that if confirmed he would respect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. We need to be clear that Judge Kavanaugh, the people who have promoted him throughout his career and who precleared his nomination, and President Trump could all lead us down a path toward further criminalizing abortion.

Judge Kavanaugh’s agenda has been just as clear on other matters regarding health care, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions. As recently as October 2017, Judge Kavanaugh criticized Chief Justice Roberts’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. In his confirmation hearing last week, Judge Kavanaugh would not commit to upholding protections for people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, and more. We need a Supreme Court Justice who will protect all Americans’ rights and rise above the Republican partisan agenda aimed at undermining people’s health care — Judge Kavanaugh has made clear he would not.

I am also deeply concerned that Judge Kavanaugh would fail to protect the basic civil rights of Granite Staters and Americans who experience disabilities. As a D.C. Circuit Judge, Judge Kavanaugh showed a disregard for the rights of those who experience disabilities when he ruled that health care providers did not need consent from certain patients who experience serious intellectual disabilities before performing certain medical procedures. As longtime disabilities advocate Liz Weintraub put it in her testimony, “this is wrong,” and threatens the progress we’ve made over the years to ensure that all Americans — regardless of personal circumstance — have the opportunity to live with the dignity and respect needed to thrive in our society and in all aspects of their lives.

When it comes to checks and balances on the President’s power, Judge Kavanaugh’s record and opinions are also extremely concerning, given that the Mueller investigation has resulted in a clear pattern of criminality that continues to emerge, and that the President’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, went so far as to state — under oath — that his criminal actions were at the direction of his candidate, President Trump.

Yet, at least for Republican presidents, Judge Kavanaugh has a history of supporting an unchecked presidency. He has written that Presidents are essentially above the law by claiming they should not be the subject of civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions, or even criminal investigations because they are “time consuming and distracting.” And during his hearing last week, Judge Kavanaugh refused to commit to recusing himself from matters involving investigations of the President who nominated him. Especially at a time like this, it is too dangerous to place a justice on the Supreme Court who believes in virtually no checks on a President’s power.

Judge Kavanaugh was handpicked from a list of candidates developed with groups funded by corporate special interests, and the agenda he has implemented throughout his career aligns with that of the big corporations and the wealthiest few in our country. Judge Kavanaugh’s claim that he would only be an “umpire” or “a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy” is undermined by everything he has said and done up to today. While he refuses to explicitly describe his agenda, it is right before our eyes — even in the limited documents from his career that we have been allowed to see. In his confirmation hearing, Judge Kavanaugh wouldn’t even allow himself to denounce white supremacy as a concept. If confirmed, we have ample reason to believe that Judge Kavanaugh would continue carrying out an agenda that threatens the rights of hard-working Americans, the health of our communities, the ability of women to fully participate in our economic and civic life, and the vitality of our democracy. And it’s an agenda that Judge Kavanaugh and Republicans don’t want you to know about because the American people don’t support it.

I can’t support it either and I won’t. I will vote against Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the Supreme Court.

Sen. Maggie Hassan

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