Our country is quickly approaching crisis mode: with convictions and indictments of many members of President Trump’s circle, and Trump’s own contempt for the rule of law and tenuous understanding of the Constitution, it feels like there’s a new threat to our democracy nearly every day.
That’s what makes Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination so alarming. Kavanaugh’s record paints a pretty disturbing picture when it comes to presidential power – because Kavanaugh seems to be cool giving the president a massive amount of unchecked authority. What does that mean? Here are a few possibilities.
1. Kavanaugh doesn’t think presidents can be prosecuted while in office.
Brett Kavanaugh has repeatedly said he’s against the idea that a sitting president can be indicted– meaning he thinks that the president, unlike everyone else, is above the law. Kavanaugh even once suggested that Congress should pass a law to formally establish that a sitting president can’t be indicted. This is kind of terrifying, considering the sheer number of criminal indictments and convictions among the president’s former staff.
It’s also a super ironic position for him to take, considering how hard Kavanaugh went after President Clinton when Kavanaugh was part of the Ken Starr investigation.
2. Kavanaugh would have no problem with Trump firing Robert Mueller.
We already know the President has contemplated firing Mueller – and that the American people are not on board with that. But Brett Kavanaugh’s a different story. Kavanaugh believes a president can hire or fire an independent counsel at will, and wants Congress to give the president “full power to act when he believes that a particular independent counsel is out to get him.” Kavanaugh’s views raise major alarms given this president’s penchant for paranoia and his obsession with trashing the Mueller investigation on Twitter.
3. Brett “Will Respect Precedent” Kavanaugh wants to put the “final nail” in Supreme Court precedent on presidential power
In 2016, Brett Kavanaugh was asked to name a Supreme Court case he believed should be overturned – and of course he turned to one on presidential power. Kavanaugh named Morrison v. Olson, which upheld a 1978 law that, according to NBC, “creates a system for independent counsels to investigate and potentially prosecute government officials for federal crimes.” Even though the law had expired in 1999, Kavanaugh said he wanted to put “the final nail” in it.
It’s not the only time Kavanaugh has questioned SCOTUS on presidential power: In US v. Nixon, SCOTUS held that President Nixon had to turn over the White House tapes and other subpoenaed materials, at the height of the Watergate scandal. Brett Kavanaugh thinks that “maybe Nixon was wrongly decided…Maybe the tension of the time led to an erroneous decision.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you were a president under investigation looking for a Supreme Court justice who would do his best to keep you out of trouble and in the White House, you’d nominate Brett Kavanaugh, too.