Grading Kavanaugh on important issues
Published 10:32 pm Monday, July 16, 2018
I was disappointed that neither Georgian was chosen to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States. President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a man who should be confirmed.
We should be pleased and comfortable with Judge Kavanaugh’s record:
Abortion/Illegal Immigration — No grade.
In a case last fall that drew widespread attention, the appeals court voted to allow a pregnant 17-year-old illegal immigrant in an immigration detention center to seek an abortion without delay. President Trump had wanted to first transfer her to an adult sponsor for guidance.
Judge Kavanaugh dissented. He wrote that while the appeals court was bound to obey Supreme Court rulings that said that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose an abortion, those precedents left room for the government to apply “reasonable regulations that do not impose an undue burden.” He maintained that the government was within its bounds to choose a transfer to a sponsor instead of “forcing the minor to make the decision in an isolated detention camp with no support network available.”
Religion — A-
Judge Kavanaugh disagreed with his colleagues in a 2015 case about a part of “Obamacare” that required insurers to cover contraception. Under the law, employers must provide insurance to their workers or pay a fine. But employers who oppose contraception on religious grounds can bypass the requirement by submitting a form to their insurers, which then cover the workers’ contraception at no expense to the employers.
Some religious organizations challenged that arrangement, contending that even submitting the form made them complicit in providing contraception. An appeals court panel rejected their argument, and the full appeals court decided not to rehear it — over Judge Kavanaugh’s objections.
If confirmed by the Senate, he would not alter the religious makeup of the Court. Kavanaugh would be replacing a fellow Catholic, Justice Kennedy.
The Court currently consists of five Catholics, three Jewish members, and the lone Protestant; Episcopalian Neil Gorsuch.
Guns — A
Judge Kavanaugh wrote that while the government may ban fully automatic machine guns, it should be unconstitutional to ban semiautomatic rifles. Judge Kavanaugh carved out a more Constitutional rights view than colleagues in a 2011 case arising from a challenge to a District of Columbia law that required gun owners to register and banned possession of semiautomatic rifles. While the appeals court upheld the limits as Constitutionally permissible under the Second Amendment, Judge Kavanaugh dissented.
He wrote that while the government may ban fully automatic machine guns, a ban on semiautomatic rifles should be unconstitutional because they “have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting and other lawful uses.” He also said that because registration had not traditionally been required for all lawfully possessed guns, that rule should be struck down, too.
Terrorism Detainees — F
Kavanaugh broadly interpreted the military’s power to hold people in wartime detention even when the evidence of their suspected ties to terrorism is relatively weak.
In several important cases brought by Guantánamo Bay detainees, Kavanaugh generally sided with the government. In habeas corpus cases, for example, he broadly interpreted the military’s power to hold people in wartime detention even when the evidence of their suspected ties to terrorism is relatively weak.
Issues Surrounding Voting — B
In October 2012, Kavanaugh was part of a three-judge panel that scrutinized a South Carolina law generally requiring voters to present government-issued photo identification in order to cast a ballot. At the time, the Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with any history of racial discrimination, as viewed by the Justice Department, to receive federal permission before changing election rules.
Judge Kavanaugh has written many conservative dissents, like the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Overall, I am pleased with the President’s choice. My only concern is his past view of the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments, which primarily deal with the rights of all people; particularly of an accused under the Constitution. I expect that after grandstanding Senate hearings, we will see a close confirmation vote. After Kavanaugh is confirmed, the balance of power at SCOTUS will tilt to the right for many years to come.