President Trump’s choice of Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is a replay of Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Court last year, right down to the Apprentice type reveal. But there are other disturbing similarities as well.
For one thing, like Gorsuch when he was a nominee, Kavanaugh does not have a track record on LGBTQ issues. Still, Kavanaugh has been vetted by the Federalist Society, which applied a hard-core conservative litmus test before submitting a list to Trump.
Kavanaugh is a reliable conservative who has been present for some of the Republican party’s sleaziest moments. He was part of Independent Counsel’s Ken Starr’s endless investigation of Bill Clinton during Clinton’s presidency.
He was also part of the legal team challenging Florida’s recount in the 2000 election. For his labors, George W. Bush appointed him to the bench in 2003, but Democrats delayed his confirmation for three years.
Still, ultra-conservative purists distrust Kavanaugh. They dislike his ties to the Republican establishment and question some of his rulings.
Although he dissented from a ruling that upheld Obamacare, he did so on narrow procedural grounds. Similarly, although he dissented in a ruling that permitted a detained immigrant from obtaining an abortion, he didn’t join another judge’s dissent that said the immigrant had no legal rights whatsoever.
The Family Research Council backed Kavanaugh when he was first appointed to the bench. Now, however, FRC head Tony Perkins seems somewhat less enthusiastic because of Kavanaugh’s abortion ruling, a sign that he may not endorse overturning Roe v. Wade outright.
“That issue is something that would be raised in this that could dampen to a degree, and I say to a degree, the enthusiasm,” Perkins said.
Kavanaugh presents another challenge: he has a long paper trail. As a judge, he has written more than 300 opinions, which will provide plenty of fodder for Democrats. Still, the Republicans are likely to muscle his nomination through as quickly as possible.
We can count on more information in the coming weeks, and also more flashbacks to the Gorsuch nomination process. That will probably include reassurances that the nominee even has gay friends, just like Gorsuch.
How bad a guy can he be? Just take a look at Gorsuch’s track record, and you’ll have your answer.