Let’s face it, Congressional hearings aren’t everybody’s first choice of viewing. But the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court are too important to be ignored because, literally, your life and the future of our country depend on whether he gets in—and how he votes.
If you’re a woman, if you’re African-American, if you’re a member of a labor union, if you believe in access to affordable health care, if you care about the environment, if you would like to know whether there really was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in our 2016 elections and if you believe that no one, not even the President, is above the law, then you need to pay attention to whether Kavanaugh becomes a Supreme Court Justice. So when he appears before the Committee, listen to his answers on these important issues:
1. Does he think Roe v. Wade should be overturned?
He has said that it’s “settled law,” but just recently the Supreme Court
overturned a precedent that was “settled law” for 41 years, so Kavanaugh’s statement about the Roe case gives no protection to women wanting control over their bodies. President Trump has been clear: he wanted to nominate someone who would reverse the Roe decision and Kavanaugh might be just the man for the job. He put obstacles in the way of a young immigrant woman seeking an abortion and one of his former clerks wrote that “no court of appeals judge has a stronger more consistent record than Judge Kavanaugh of enforcing restrictions on abortion.” Do you want to see a return to secret abortions and the legal and health dangers they create? Can senators get Kavanaugh to say whether he thinks the decision in the Roe case was actually right? Will they try?
2. What are the limits of Presidential power?
At a time when the President has been fingered as an unindicted co-conspirator by a felon who happens to be his former attorney, can he be held accountable for any illegal actions he might have taken? Judge Kavanaugh has said he’s against indictments of sitting Presidents. This, even though he vigorously went after Bill Clinton as part of the Starr investigation. But what if there is overwhelming evidence of a crime, what then? Does Kavanaugh think that no matter what, the President is not within reach of the law? This is certainly a question that could come before the Supreme Court and we have a right to know how Kavanaugh would approach it.
3. Is the Robert Mueller investigation into Trump campaign-Russian collusion constitutional?
Two years ago, Kavanaugh reportedly said that he wanted to overturn a Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of an independent counsel. But according to CNN, he has privately told senators that the Mueller appointment, which is more limited, was appropriate. What position will he take in the hearing? If he sides with Trump, who thinks Mueller’s appointment was wrong, that could give the President the encouragement he needs to fire Mueller. We might never find out the full extent of what Trump and his campaign associates did that could have broken the law.
4. Is the Affordable Care Act constitutional?
The Trump Administration thinks the ACA’s protections for people with preexisting conditions is unconstitutional. Its Justice Department filed a brief saying so. Kavanaugh dissented from two cases upholding the ACA and in one was very critical of the ACA, which provides health insurance for millions of Americans. A former clerk for Judge Kavanaugh evenwrote that “no other contender on President Trump’s list [was] on record so vigorously criticizing the Affordable Care Act as Judge Kavanaugh.” If Kavanaugh gets onto the Supreme Court and hears a case involving the ACA, he could cast the deciding vote to destroy it and take health care away from millions. Will he be clear about his views at his hearing?
5. What counts as discrimination?
Kavanaugh upheld a voter ID law that the Justice Department said was discriminatory and would deny the right to vote to tens of thousands of people of color. He has repeatedly denied workplace discrimination claims and ruled for the police in a case of stop-and-frisk, when police officers stopped an African-American man who “vaguely matched” the description of an armed robber. Will he try to defend his decisions? Can we have any confidence that he would uphold rights for people of color?
6. Can government agencies make rules to make sure our environment is clean and our workplaces are safe?
This is really important, but Kavanaugh has a record of fighting against the regulatory agencies that protectour health and safety. Instead, he sides with corporations and big business. In a case where a worker lost her life in a performance with a killer whale at SeaWorld, he even sided with the employer – saying it’s “paternalistic” to try to protect people from injury and death on the job. It would be good to hear if he still thinks that and if he thinks workers and consumers deserve any protection at all.
We’ll be listening.