Early Takes on the Kavanaugh Nomination

It’s been just over 24 hours since President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s a summary of initial reactions.

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His credentials and experience have been praised. “On paper,” writes Richard Wolf in USA Today, “Kavanaugh may be the most qualified Supreme Court nominee in generations. Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale Law School professor with mostly liberal leanings, wrote a widely discussed opinion piece in The New York Times praising Kavanaugh as a judge who has “wide and deep respect among scholars, lawyers and jurists.” Michael Gerson, who worked with Kavanaugh in the Bush administration, described him as “a man of character, decency and intellectual depth” with “ the mind and temperament of a great Supreme Court justice.”

Conservatives have lauded Kavanaugh’s conservative bona fides. Writing on FoxNews.com, Kelly Shackelford of the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group, declared the nominee’s opinions from the D.C. Circuit “consistently adhered to our founding principles that government exists to protect the God-given rights of the people and that the Constitution exists to prevent government from infringing on the rights it is entrusted to defend.” The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List described Kavanaugh as an “outstanding choice.”

Liberals have been rather less impressed. The Washington Post’s Editorial Board writes that Kavanaugh could “drastically” shift the Court’s ideological balance, and calls upon the Senate to “extract an ironclad commitment that Mr. Kavanaugh will act as a check on the president.” Garrett Epps, in The Atlantic, finds grounds for concern in the nominee’s background. “Kavanaugh has been the creature and servant of political power all his days,” Epps writes. “It would be the height of folly to expect that, having attained his lifetime’s ambition of a seat on the Supreme Court, he will become anything else.”

Writing in The Hill, Dawn Laguens of Planned Parenthood warns, “The balance of the court is at stake—and with Kavanaugh’s nomination, our constitutional right to have an abortion in this country is tipping away from us.” At Vox, Dylan Matthews dives into the nominee’s writings to make the case that Kavanaugh would overturn Roe v. Wade. But “thanks to the perversion of the Supreme Court confirmation process,” write the editors of the New York Times, we’ll never get a straight answer on the nominees positions on Roe or much anything else of importance.

This post was written by ISCOTUS Fellow Matthew Webber, Chicago-Kent Class of 2019, and edited by ISCOTUS Co-Director and Chicago-Kent Faculty Member Christopher W. Schmidt.

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