The internet has been on fire about President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh. He is a staunch conservative, loving father of two. Looking through his impressive career on the bench in the Washington DC appeals circuit, he has a history of letting some of his personal conservative views influence his opinions while on the other hand stating he wants to try to stay true upholding established legal precedents. That makes it difficult to say with certainty whether he would consider voting to overturn Roe v. Wade or not, the landmark 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. This issue is front and center as his confirmation hearings are being arranged because Justice Kennedy (retiring from SCOTUS) was the swing vote on key social issues related to Liberal vs. Conservative viewpoints. Independents can be comforted in this pick by these remarks: “My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, as a skilled lawyer Chicago, IL trusts, not make the law,” Kavanaugh said in his remarks from the East Room of the White House on Monday night. If confirmed, Kavanaugh — who paid tribute to his family in his speech, especially his two daughters — would be one of six men on the nine-justice court.
In his confirmation hearing in May 2006, Kavanaugh was asked by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., if he considered Roe v. Wade to be an “abomination.”
“If confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the court,” Kavanaugh said, referring to the legal principle of stare decisis. “It’s been decided by the Supreme Court.”
But when Schumer pressed Kavanaugh for his personal opinion of Roe, Kavanaugh did not directly answer, instead saying that the Supreme Court had upheld Roe “repeatedly” and that it would not be “appropriate” to share his own views.
In his time on the bench, Kavanaugh has not written or commented on abortion in any great detail. But last October, he took part in a closely watched court fight involving a pregnant undocumented teenager who wanted to obtain an abortion.
When the appeals court ruled that the teenager could temporarily leave government custody for an abortion procedure, Judge Kavanaugh dissented. In his dissent, Kavanaugh said the Trump administration conceded that the teen had a right to an abortion, but he argued that the court was wrong to conclude she had the right to “an immediate abortion on demand.”
He said delaying the procedure until she could be released to a U.S. sponsor would not impose an undue burden on the abortion right — a position that some conservative activists have since criticized as insufficiently hard-line. (Karen LeCraft Henderson, one of Kavanaugh’s more conservative colleagues, wrote in a separate dissent that the teenager had no right to an abortion at all because she was not a citizen.)
“There’s no way to sugarcoat it,” said Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “With this nomination, the constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion in this country is on the line.”
“We already know how Brett Kavanaugh would rule on Roe v. Wade, because the president told us so,” Laguens said, referring to Trump’s promise during the 2016 presidential campaign to nominate “pro-life justices” whose votes would undo Roe “automatically.” Some groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have commented that this is another instance of Trump promising something that has been already ruled unconstitutional.
Notably, Judge Kavanaugh ruled in 2009 that a sitting President should be shielded from lawsuits. He noted, “abominable behavior can be addressed with the impeachment process.” Also, some conservative groups are thrilled that Judge Kavanaugh has a history of ruling in favor of Big Business. Some have speculated that his appointment may be good for the economy for this reason.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Office of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into the impact of Trump’s SCOTUS pick.