The Yale graduate and newly presented Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, has officially been exposed to the harsh political atmosphere that is Washington, D.C. The Senate hearings turned kabuki theatre haven’t provided much help to those who are attempting to disseminate between fact and fiction. Many Americans are still questioning who Judge Kavanaugh is. What does his nomination and potential appointment mean for Americans?
Mr. Kavanaugh’s professional career can be broken into several different parts. After his clerkship for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Kavanaugh was a licensed lawyer who worked for a large law firm before then joining the George W. Bush administration. From 2001 to 2003 he was an associate White House counsel, from 2003 to 2006 he was the White House staff secretary and then was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. His judicial record would be the most pertinent information out of all these positions. Throughout his time on the D.C. Circuit, Judge Kavanaugh faced a number of different statutory issues such as the separation of powers, national security, administrative law, Second Amendment issues, religious liberty, environmental law, international law, antitrust and immigration, to name a few. It is fair to say that the majority of his rulings are firmly grounded in textualism.
What is textualism? Textualism, when considering the Constitution, may be understood, according to Webster’s dictionary, as the “strict or rigid adherence to a text.” It’s quite a simple theory. However, this form of reading has been embattled by the “living document” lens. The living document theory sees the document as a flexible and malleable vehicle, molded to fit the whims and ideas of those who read it. But I digress. What does this mean for Americans?
Essentially, this would tilt the courts five to four in favor of the textualist interpretation. The main issues seem to be particularly focused on women’s rights and, specifically, the abortion issue.
So, what does this mean for Roe v. Wade? Nationally speaking, probably nothing. The sheer effort to look into a case such as this would be herculean. Roe, as a precedent, would be near impossible to
overturn. Now does this mean that a more conservative court would not attempt to chip away at the ruling? That has yet to be seen. Most likely, this new court will be more receptive to states who are attempting to place more restrictions on abortions rather than those who propose an outright ban.
At this point, there is nothing that Democrats can do to block Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Since the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, got rid of the filibuster in 2013, Supreme Court nominations have been accepted with ease. This is, and continues to be, a contentious time in Washington and this nomination and appointment will have enormous impact on the rule of law in America for years to come.