Is Kavanaugh Really Bad?

Ken AshfordSupreme CourtLeave a Comment

Make no mistake about it: the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is bad news. But the bad news arrived on Election Day 2016, not yesterday.  Kavanaugh was inevitable.

I have been downplaying the fear and anguish that some on the left are going through.  Quite often, I’ve been hearing and reading things like this:

Kavanaugh has argued that presidents should not be distracted by civil lawsuits, criminal investigations, or even questions from a prosecutor or defense attorney while in office, Michael Kranish and Ann E. Marimow report. “Having observed the weighty issues that can consume a president, Kavanaugh wrote, the nation’s chief executive should be exempt from ‘time-consuming and distracting’ lawsuits and investigations, which ‘would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.’ If a president were truly malevolent, Kavanaugh wrote, he could always be impeached.”

Yes, Kavanaugh wrote that…. in 2008.  And he wasn’t taking a LEGAL position, but a political one.  Yet, some seem to think he is Trump’s ace in the hole for the Mueller investigation.  Trump himself may think that.

Kavanaugh has a conservative philosophy. He is pro-business.  He is a staunch defender of executive prerogative.  For progressives, this is clearly a setback.

But none of his views are outside the mainstream, like Trump is.  He is, like most educated conservatives, probably a Never Trumper.  And there is no indication that his political philosophy will override his judicial philosophy — should the two ever conflict.

Will he become a David Souter, who sided with liberals on the court?  Very, very unlikely.  Will he become a swing justice, like Kennedy (for whom he clerked and whose recommendation may have won the day with Trump)?  Also unlikely, but still possible.

I don’t think he is as bad as Scalia.  Or Gorsuch.  Or even Thomas.

And yeah, the Supreme Court is going to be terrible for the rest of my life, I expect.

But that just means we progressives have to fight harder.  In Congress.  For the White House.  And locally.