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Trump Picked Kavanaugh. How Will He Change the Supreme Court?

It’s an alarming day for the law of democracy.

July 10, 2018

Excerpted from Politico

Three quick thoughts come to mind.

First, it’s an alarming day for the law of democracy. On this topic, the Roberts Court has been activist, relentless, and destructive. Take Citizens United. Or Shelby County (gutting the Voting Rights Act). Or this year’s rulings on voter purges and racial gerrymandering. The Roberts Court even came within one vote – Kennedy’s – of blocking citizen ballot measures to reform redistricting. The Court may now rule on voting rights, partisan gerrymandering, campaign finance laws and the one-person-one-vote doctrine (conservative activists want only citizens counted for redistricting). Kavanaugh should be grilled on his stance toward America’s wobbly democracy.

Second, expect a hard clash around presidential power. Kavanaugh helped write the Starr Report urging the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. He has denied drafting the salacious stuff. But its G-Rated sections insisted a president could be impeached for lying to the public and his staff. Later, the nominee suggested that Congress pass a law immunizing presidents from any criminal investigation while in office. Either position is problematic. The Court may be asked to rule on everything from whether the Mueller probe can enforce subpoenas to issues arising from the Stormy Daniels lawsuit to the Trump Foundation’s fishy charitable expenditures. Think of a major ruling like U.S. v. Nixon four decades ago, ordering the president to produce his tapes. Senators should ask, in detail: Is a president above the law?

Finally, we’ll get a depressing glimpse of the asymmetrical politics of judicial nominations. Conservatives long have organized around the Court and the Constitution, campaigned around it and voted about it. When the GOP blockaded Merrick Garland’s nomination, Democrats barely said a word. For years, well-funded groups like the Judicial Crisis Network have mobilized to support Federalist Society-vetted nominees. Now, finally, progressives have begun to spend money and build organizational muscle. But with the filibuster gone, and the elusive goal of a hard right Supreme Court in reach, it may all be too late.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons/CADC)