“No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” – Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh
It’s more than a little disquieting that one of the first things to come from the mouth of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the newly minted Supreme Court nominee, is obviously and verifiably untrue.
On the campaign trail, President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE promised to limit his search for any new Supreme Court justice to a short list handpicked by the far-right Heritage Foundation. It’s hard to imagine that a judge who has spent as much time in Washington as Mr. Kavanaugh was unaware of this well-known fact.
More likely, his very first action as a Supreme Court nominee was to lie.
We’ve come to expect such Trumpian statements from the president’s employees. His doctor, his communications directors, his press secretaries. But not from a nominee for the branch of government designated to be a check on his administration.
In just a few words, Judge Kavanaugh aligned himself with the likes of erstwhile Press Secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerPsaki defends move to oust Trump appointees from military academy boards Defense & National Security: The post-airlift evacuation struggle Conway and Spicer fire back at White House over board resignation requests MORE, who claimed that Trump’s inauguration crowd was larger than Obama’s, and the doctor who felt it necessary to tell the world the spurious claim that the president was the healthiest human being in world history.
That a distinguished federal appellate judge felt the need to debase himself with obvious untruths just moments after his nomination to the highest court in the land portends an attempt by President Trump to dominate the judiciary, bringing us ever closer to a constitutional crisis.
This is why it’s such a concern to me that nominee Kavanaugh felt it necessary to flatter the insecure president during their primetime reality show at the White House last week.
In Washington, we talk a lot about the balance of powers, but at home in Georgia, we feel it. We feel the 5-4 Shelby County v. Holder decision striking down important parts of the Voting Rights Act. We feel Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing women the right to choose. And we feel Brown v. Board of Education—we recall the power of the courts to decide so much more than individual cases: We have seen its ability to change the course of history.
To conclude that this sycophantic debut is where Judge Kavanaugh’s problems begin and end would be dangerously naïve. The briefest of examinations of his record reveals numerous positions contrary to the values held by most Americans. He has opposed EPA protections, workers’ rights, consumer protections, and the right to choose. And his personal statements call to question his ability to be an independent check on the president, such as his declarations that investigations of presidents should be deferred while that president is still in office and his opinion that a sitting president is immune from criminal charges.
This should be particularly troubling for all Americans, as the Supreme Court may soon be called upon to consider whether President Trump can be subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury or whether a sitting president can be indicted. Our democracy will need an unbiased and principled Supreme Court functioning at its finest when that time comes, and a justice who has prejudged as Kavanaugh would impede that responsibility.
To avoid any appearance of impropriety, the Senate should not consider a Supreme Court appointment from a president who is under the cloud of investigation for conspiracy to violate the law, and the obstruction of that investigation.
Judge Kavanaugh’s statements clearly make him suspect, and his confirmation would undermine the credibility of the nation’s highest court, and interfere with the judicial branch’s ability to check the executive.
With this cloud hanging over Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, it is necessary that the Senate keep with tradition and follow the McConnell Rule. Elections are less than four months away, and we should allow the American people to speak at the ballot box before the Senate is asked to confirm a nominee for the highest court in the land. The delay would help to ensure that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s replacement is free from suspicion of bias and concerns over the preservation of our system of checks and balances.
Judge Kavanaugh has gone beyond his clear proclivity for being an activist judge out of line with the rest of the country—he has revealed himself to beholden to another branch of the government and would imperil our Constitution’s delicate balance of powers. Americans deserve a United States Supreme Court Justice who is up to the task of protecting the rule of law without fear or favor, and unfortunately Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment is ill-considered, ill-timed, and should not move forward.
Congressman Johnson is a member of the House Judiciary and Transportation & Infrastructure committees and is ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.