Scoot: Is Trump's Supreme Court nominee good or bad for America?

July 10, 2018 - 3:11 pm

Nominating Supreme Court justices is one of the most monumental decisions presidents make during their time in office. Last night, President Donald Trump made his second Supreme Court nomination, which could have a lasting impact on the High Court for decades.

President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy left by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy, nominated by President Reagan, was often an important swing vote on the court. Many Democrats feared that President Trump would nominate an ultra-conservative in an attempt to swing the court to the right. Many Republicans were hoping the President would swing the court to the right. Which side should celebrate the selection of Kavanaugh?

Judge Brett Kavanaugh served under both Bush administrations. He worked on the investigation of President Bill Clinton and clerked under Justice Kennedy, the very justice he is nominated to replace. Kavanaugh is described as a strong conservative; and many fear that Kavanaugh could be the vote that overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that insured legalized abortions in the United States, and be a setback for LGBTQ rights.

President Trump said that he would not question potential nominees about their political views or how they might rule on key issues like Roe v. Wade. The President did not have to ask those questions because those who made the list of nominees for consideration, including The Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation, did that work for the President. It is believed that each name on the list of potential nominees had been appropriately tested on conservative positions and conservative ideology.

In his announcement nominating Kavanaugh, President Trump said: “What matters is not a judge’s political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require. I am pleased to say I have found without a doubt such a person.” Trump spoke about Kavanaugh’s “impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.” Those are the idealistic characteristics of a Supreme Court Justice that we should all hope are true.

Every president crafts speeches and forms statements to promote a desired message, but President Trump has been exceptional at making statements that cannot be trusted. So, it would be naive to accept the President’s glowing words about Judge Kavanaugh without a filter of skepticism.

In the current political climate of America, judgment of Brett Kavanaugh will be based on political tribalism, rather than objectivity. There will be those who will automatically condemn Kavanaugh and those who automatically praise him as the new nominee to the Supreme Court.

For the Democrats who fear a new Trump nominee will lead to the loss of abortion rights, LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage, Judge Kavanaugh appears to have no official record on LGBTQ rights, same-sex marriage and is not known to oppose the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. But if he made it to President Trump’s list, then there is reason to wonder what the future will hold for important issues of equality.

But consider the journey of Justice David Souter, nominated by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, who initially seemed to be a staunch conservative and after the nomination of Clarence Thomas in 1991, appeared to sense a conservative tilt and then surprised and disappointed many conservatives by voting with liberal justices on a few key issues.

Last night on Fox News, host Sean Hannity predicted that the wicked left will take extreme measures to destroy the reputation of Judge Kavanaugh, which I found comical because that suggests that the right would not do the same thing to a nominee from a Democrat sitting in the White House. And yet, the Fox News audience will not consider that the right would do the same thing and condemn the left as the only evil political empire.

If President Trump’s words about Kavanaugh are lived out during his time on the Supreme Court, then America is the big winner. If, however, those were just cheap words designed to shape positive opinions and Kavanaugh does sway the court to the extreme right, then America loses, even conservative Americans.

Hannity applauded President Trump for keeping his promise to the American people. I recall the promise to the American people during the campaign was to vote for Trump because America needs a balanced court. If Trump’s nomination of Judge Kavanaugh is actually a covert attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade and LGBTQ rights, then his campaign plea that a vote for him is a vote for a balanced court was a lie.

If Hillary Clinton had won the election and she were facing her second Supreme Court nomination, she would probably be seeking judges that she believed would lean the collective vote of the court to the left; and there should be equal criticism of that, as well.

But for those who still want equal negative time devoted to Hillary, it’s important to remind them that she lost and Trump is president. One of the disadvantages to winning is that you, not the loser, will be judged daily by your actions.

Our hope - that of the right, the left and everyone in-between - should be that if Judge Brett Kavanaugh is approved as the next justice of the SCOTUS, he strictly interprets the Constitution without allowing the politics of the day to guide decisions that will have a long-range impact of life in America.


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