On Sept. 4, 2018, Judge Brett Kavanaugh began the process of being interviewed for a seat on the United States Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Brett Kavanaugh would fill the vacancy of the now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, effective July 31, 2018, in a letter sent to Trump on June 27, 2018.
According to CNBC, Justice Anthony Kennedy was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 1988. Justice Kennedy was also a swing vote in many landmarks decisions, such as Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage across the United States. If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh would lean the Supreme Court to the right, considering he is a conservative judge replacing a moderate one.
Now many Americans and Democratic senators are concerned that, if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, decades worth of cases, such as Roe v. Wade, would be overturned. During the confirmation hearings with the Senate, Judge Kavanaugh was asked about his stance on many controversial issues, such as the Second Amendment and abortion rights. According to CNN Politics, Judge Kavanaugh met with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and told her that Roe v. Wade is “settled law” and that he had no intention of overturning the court decision. Back in 2006 when Judge Kavanaugh was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals, he met with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and discussed Roe v. Wade. At the time, Judge Kavanaugh told Senator Schumer that “he did not think it was appropriate for him to give a personal view about the case.” These conflicting statements made by Judge Kavanaugh worry pro-choice supporters and Democratic senators because these groups fear that Judge Kavanaugh could overturn the landmark decision, if given the opportunity.
According to the New York Times, Kavanaugh began his Senate hearing at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 4. The hearings were at first delayed, due to protests against Judge Kavanaugh and Democratic senators’ pushing back against his confirmation. Capitol Hill police removed numerous protesters during Judge Kavanaugh’s opening statements to the Senate. After the opening statement, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) cited the “Ginsburg Rule,” allowing Judge Kavanaugh to exercise his right not to answer questions about his personal views on abortion. Democratic senators expressed their concerns over this, fearing that if confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh could overturn Roe v. Wade.
Another controversial topic brought to the attention of those watching the hearings was Judge Kavanaugh’s stance on executive powers. In this day and age, this topic is extremely controversial, given the Trump-Russia probe being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. When asked if a sitting president could be subpoenaed, Kavanaugh did not provide a direct answer, but he did say that “nobody is above the law.” This statement raised a red flag in the minds of Democratic senators, who fear that Judge Kavanaugh could protect President Trump against “legal scrutiny” from the Mueller Investigation.
According to CNN Politics, Judge Kavanaugh was an aide in the Bush Administration from 2000-2004. During that time, he sent numerous emails regarding his opinions of Roe v. Wade and racial profiling. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) threatened to release these “committee classified” e-mails to the public, risking expulsion for breaking Senate rules. Senator Booker called this “an act of civil disobedience.” However, those documents were already declassified at around 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6, as noted by CNN Politics. In an e-mail obtained by the New York Times, Judge Kavanaugh mentioned that some federal judges might not have referred to Roe v. Wade as “settled law,” but that he did. During his hearing, Judge Kavanaugh did not confirm how he would vote on future cases if confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. According to ABC News, when Judge Kavanaugh was asked about this e-mail, he responded that he “never gives hints, as a judge, on how he would vote in cases he presided in.”
Senator Booker tossed around the idea of running for president in 2020 on the Democratic ticket. Was this act of “releasing classified emails” a publicity stunt or was he trying to reveal something about Judge Kavanaugh that he felt would be important for all to know? We, as the American people, may never find out. However, Senator Booker’s action, whether they were legal or not, reveal his desire to rally his fellow senators to not confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the end, many Republican senators and American citizens feel that Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court.