Accused of sexual assault, a potential opponent of Roe v. Wade and profound supporter of economic entitlement over environmental health, Brett Kavanaugh is easily becoming one of America’s most targeted men in politics.
On July 9th of this year, President Donald Trump announced Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision to take senior status on the Supreme Court and his nomination of Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy of Associate Justice. Kavanaugh currently serves as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Trump proclaims he is “universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time.”
On paper, Kavanaugh is a clear candidate for the position and would be especially fitting in Trump’s increasingly right-wing administration, however, there are many reasons to be wary of his potential election.
Since Kavanaugh’s nomination, protests have arisen in cities around the U.S., including Knoxville. According to the Knox News Sentinel, roughly 50 people showed up to the City Council building on Aug. 26 to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination, taking issue with his stance on women’s reproductive rights. Many fear that with his election, Kavanaugh will cast the deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case which legalized abortion.
Though Kavanaugh has never outwardly expressed opposition to Roe v. Wade, Trump has long vowed to appoint justices willing to reverse the case. Much of the public still speculates that, Kavanaugh, a devoted Catholic, is presumably pro-life.
Possibly one of the more troubling reasons the public should be wary of Kavanaugh’s election would be his inclination to favor business interests over public health. Throughout his time on the U.S. Court of Appeals, it seems Kavanaugh adopts extremist views in order to defend polluters.
After a close review of his record as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals by the Environmental Working Group Corporation (EWG), they found that Kavanaugh has repeatedly ruled to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to reduce both air and water pollution. The nonprofit law firm Earthjustice found that out of 18 cases involving the EPA, Kavanaugh ruled against 16. While Kavanaugh has claimed that he believes in the dangers of climate change, it seems clear that he mistrusts the authority of the EPA to regulate environmental policy.
According to EWG, he has ruled in favor of factories “fouling the air of their neighbors” with the dumping of hazardous coal waste. Under Kavanaugh, the EPA may lose authority to regulate greenhouse gases, etc. Time and time again it seems evident that Kavanaugh favors business interest over environmental health, an increasingly disturbing idea in an era where taking care of the environment is more crucial than ever.
Besides his viewpoints on women’s health and the environment, Kavanaugh’s moral character may be where the largest issue lies. Kavanaugh has been thrust into a political spotlight after Christine Blasey Ford’s letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein was released to the public roughly two weeks ago.
Even more recently, Deborah Ramirez released a statement of the same vein. The content? Allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh claiming he made unwarranted sexual advances on both women, on separate occasions, during the early 1980s.
The specifics of each case are troubling. In Ford’s letter she recalls, “With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me.” Though both events happened over 35 years ago, it should be commonplace to take notice when someone claims their life was at stake, especially when the attacker is someone trusted to make the highest of judicial decisions.
Many right-wing conservatives claim that these allegations are merely the Democratic Party’s attempt to smear Kavanaugh’s reputation, claiming Ford and Ramirez are releasing false statements with a political agenda to halt Kavanaugh’s election.
Both are doing just that, but with regards to “human rights, social justice and social change,” according to Ramirez. Only time will tell whether or not these allegations are true, but there’s no doubt we should all pay attention to the severity of these claims and perhaps consider other qualified candidates whose morals are not up for debate.
Much more can be said in this fight for and against Kavanaugh’s election, but it remains clear that more needs to be done to investigate where he stands on common moral ground before he is elected as one of the highest powers in the judicial system.
Obviously, the appointment of a Supreme Court justice is a complicated and intricate process. Many factors need to be taken into account in an election of a new member. Where the candidate stands on current hot-button topics and issues is clearly a major concern, but the individual’s character should also be heavily considered. Society should able to hold them to a higher standard when considering appointing them to the highest court in the land.