The US must settle its constitutional crisis before it confirms Kavanaugh

‘These are certainly the rules of sleazy New York real estate – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. These are not supposed to be the rules that govern supreme court appointments and decisions.’

Trump’s US supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is certainly competent at dodging difficult questions. In his confirmation hearing in Congress this week, he was asked for his opinion on Roe v Wade, the supreme court case that legalized abortion nationwide. His answer was that it’s “an important precedent. It has been reaffirmed many times”. But will he reaffirm it? He won’t say – even in light of leaked emails that suggest he doesn’t think Roe is settled law at all, and that the US supreme court could overturn it.

That slipperiness should be enough to reject him as a justice, but there are other reasons, too. The United States is perched on the edge of a constitutional crisis, led as we are by an unstable wannabe authoritarian who is at the center of a web of criminality, and is himself under investigation – and not for a petty matter, but for potentially selling out American democracy to a hostile foreign power.

This president is now in a position where he is selecting one of the judges who may eventually judge him – a clear conflict of interest if there ever was one. It’s a highly unusual situation, but it is a crisis. And it means that Kavanaugh’s confirmation – any confirmation to the supreme court – must be put on hold.

This is the point made in a recent paper by legal scholars Laurence Tribe, Judge Timothy Lewis and Norman Eisen in a paper for the Brookings Institution. They rightly point out that the body that could wind up adjudicating some of the most crucial issues of the Trump investigation is the same one Trump is currently hand-picking a judge for. The president is under criminal investigation. Do we really think that same president should be picking a judge who may ultimately decide, for example, whether the president can pardon himself?

The three men who wrote the Brookings paper “have either been before the Senate for confirmation, worked on supreme court or other confirmations, or both”. And this confirmation process, they say, is a frightening outlier, coming from a White House that has already shown total disregard…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.