Kavanaugh won’t be the independent check and balance the high court needs
© Greg Nash

The confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court of the land would be an enormous step backward for civil rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights and working people. It would cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and reverse decades of progress on issues critical to democracy. As a member of Congress committed to civil rights for all and as the first Indian-American woman in the House of Representatives, I oppose this nomination and urge the American people to do everything possible to stop the confirmation.

Kavanaugh was hand-picked by President TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE from a shortlist of extremist ideological justices, compiled by interest groups who have been waiting for this moment to put hard-core, ideological Supreme Court justices on the bench whose votes they can count on for issues like abortion and voting rights.


Americans should be clear that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would hit them right in the pocket book—starting with health care. Judge Kavanaugh dissented in a 2011 case that upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. If confirmed, he would also rule on a lawsuit joined by the Trump administration that would end the requirement that health insurers cover pre-existing conditions.

When the case of an undocumented 17-year-old woman blocked by Trump’s Office of Refugee Resettlement from having an abortion came to Judge Kavanaugh, he sided with the administration only to be quickly reversed by the full D.C. circuit. Ignoring the principles of reproductive choice enshrined in Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh felt the need to pen an embittered dissent, arguing for the government’s interest in “favoring fetal life” and lamenting what he characterized as the 17-year-old’s “abortion on demand.”

President Trump has already said publicly that his nominees will “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade. As women, we must be clear that our right to control our own bodies is at stake.

Also under threat are our rights to breathe clean air and drink clean water – and our ability to tackle climate change. While Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the deciding vote in Massachusetts v. EPAa ruling The Atlantic called “the most important court case in U.S. climate law” because it allowed the EPA to regulate carbon emissions – Kavanaugh has consistently undercut the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. This issue, along with Clean Water Act and the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act, could come before the court in the next few years.

When it comes to our civil liberties, the Supreme Court ought to be one of our last lines of defense against authoritarianism. The confirmation process should release thousands of documents that may finally answer the question of whether Kavanaugh misled Congress in 2007, when he answered questions about his role in formulating controversial torture, detention and surveillance policies under the Bush administration.

There is no question that the Supreme Court will shape every major decision that affects Americans for decades to come. But perhaps the issue we should be most focused on is whether the court will hold accountable a president who has made it clear he does not believe in checks and balances and is above the law. On the heels of a disgraceful press conference with an authoritarian dictator, Trump made it clear that he is accountable only to his only personal interests and not to his Constitutional obligation to protect our American democracy.

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee in Congress, I have had a front-row seat to what sometimes feels even more shameful: Republican attempts to cover up what this president is doing. We have held no hearings on Russian interference in our elections or on the president’s potential obstruction of justice. We have done absolutely nothing to protect our elections, in spite of clear evidence that Russia interfered with them. My GOP colleagues have made it clear they will do everything possible to undermine Special Counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s investigation that has already produced five guilty pleas from individuals at the highest level of the Trump campaign. Just days ago, Mueller indicted 12 Russian agents for hacking into our elections systems. President Trump has claimed he is above the law – a claim that should strike fear into the hearts of every patriotic American.

Where does Judge Kavanaugh stand? Most recently, he has suggested that a sitting president should be immune from criminal indictment. His writings are deeply troubling, and his actions as a former partisan bulldog for conservatives tell us that he is willing to act on his conservative ideology over and over again.

Now more than ever, we need a Supreme Court that serves the purpose it was designed for: to be an independent check and balance and to ensure that no-one—including the president—is above the law.

That’s why we must pull out all the stops to prevent Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Only the power of people in the streets and in their senators’ offices can stop this consequential confirmation. Now is the time to play hardball. The American people and our future generations deserve nothing less.

Jayapal represents Washington’s 7th District and is a member of the House Judiciary Committee.