By Elijah Cummings
Responding to President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the fifth (and majority) vote on the nine-member United States Supreme Court, our nation’s foremost civil rights organizations issue a warning that is both ominous and clear.
If the United States Senate consents to the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, the new Supreme Court majority will constitute a clear and present danger to our civil rights, our health and our economic opportunity as Americans.
As Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, has observed, “Brett Kavanaugh is a direct threat to our civil and human rights and is unfit to serve on our nation’s highest court.”
Although I bear no personal animus against Judge Kavanaugh, I would have to agree with Ms. Gupta’s warning to the American people. Consider just three of the major objections to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
First, the President has corrupted this nomination process by relying on a list of ultra-conservative judges that were preapproved by right-wing legal groups that have told us they want to roll back decades of progress.
This deviation from time-honored tradition was aided and abetted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans who “stole a Supreme Court Seat” by refusing to even consider President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.
Second, President Trump could not have found a candidate who would protect him more against Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation than Judge Kavanaugh.
Judge Kavanaugh’s record reveals that he believes the President should be protected from lawsuits and criminal investigations—a belief with serious implications for numerous legal issues in the Mueller investigation that could eventually reach the Supreme Court.
Third, Judge Kavanaugh has proven he would not apply the law fairly and would continuously protect the most powerful among us. He would take away affordable health care, sharply curb—if not outright deny—a woman’s right to choose, further erode the rights of workers and further degrade our voting rights.
If Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is confirmed by the United States Senate, our highest court will no longer be the guardian of our most precious rights – our voting rights most of all.
The case against Senate approval of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to our Supreme Court is both compelling and far more extensive than I have summarized. Nevertheless, with just a couple of possible exceptions, the Republican Senate majority is likely to bow down to President Trump, once again, and vote to place Judge Kavanaugh on the Court.
It will be up to Democrats in the Senate, joined (hopefully) by several enlightened Republicans, to protect the American People from this reactionary peril – and Maryland’s Democratic Senators, Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, will be leading that defense of our most fundamental rights.
Senator Cardin has declared that he is “gravely concerned” about Judge Kavanaugh’s willingness to defer criminal investigations and prosecutions of presidential misconduct until after President Trump leaves office.
“The Supreme Court was designed as an independent check and balance against both the executive and legislative branches of government,” Senator Cardin has observed. “It should not be a rubber stamp on the extreme partisan positions of the president.”
Senator Van Hollen has been even more outspoken in his opposition to the nomination.
“Americans deserve a Supreme Court justice who will stand up for liberty and justice for all — not someone picked from a list compiled by right-wing organizations to do their bidding. Kavanaugh does not meet that basic standard of fairness and impartiality, and I cannot support him.”
We, who serve the people of Maryland in the House of Representatives, do not have a vote on this nomination, but we most certainly do have the duty to defend the civil rights of the American people.
Our civil and human rights as Americans hang in the balance. We must have a Justice who will apply the law fairly, even for the most vulnerable among us, and not interpret it to protect the privileges of the most powerful.
Judge Kavanaugh will not be that Justice. His nomination by President Trump should be defeated.
Congressman Elijah Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.