11 Reasons Brett Kavanaugh's Confirmation Process Has Faced Such Intense Blowback

ByCaroline Burke
Drew Angerer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee is only one day into his confirmation process for the U.S. Supreme Court, but it's already been an absolute explosion of tempers, opinions, and arguments from senators on either side of the partisan aisle. Between protesters screaming until they were removed from the courtroom and repeated requests by Democratic senators to postpone the hearing altogether, it's clear the atmosphere was tense. When it comes down to it, there are several main reasons why people are protesting Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process.

Kavanaugh's beliefs have alarmed those in favor of universal access to reproductive rights, increased environmental regulation, and gun control reform, to name a few issues. But the controversy surrounding his confirmation isn't just about his political beliefs. There are also a range of external factors that have made Kavanaugh's confirmation process especially heated, from its timing to the questions surrounding his professional history.

Given what a whirlwind the process has been since Trump unveiled his pick on July 9 of this year, it might be hard to figure out what the source of the chaos is. So here's a quick, comprehensive breakdown of all of the different factors that are currently contributing to the Kavanaugh resistance.

Kavanaugh's Documents

For Kavanaugh's hearing, the Democratic senators on the committee were given a fraction of the files that represented Kavanaugh's career, according to the Washington Post. To put it into perspective: the full 35 months where Kavanaugh served as staff secretary for President George W. Bush were entirely unaccounted for.

Additionally, Democratic senators reported that they had received 42,000 pages of Kavanaugh-related documents the morning of the hearing. It would have been nearly impossible to read through all of them before the process kicked off.

His Views On Presidential Power

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Kavanaugh believes that presidential power should make sitting presidents immune from criminal investigations and prosecutions until after they've left their office. In a legal brief for the Minnesota Law Review, Kavanaugh wrote,

Having seen first-hand how complex and difficult that job is, I believe it vital that the President be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible. In particular, Congress might consider a law exempting a President—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.

Senator Cory Booker has said of Kavanaugh's belief in presidential pardoning, “The person [Trump has] selected was the only person amidst all of these individuals on his much-talked about list, the only person that has clearly stated, ‘Hey, Mr. President, in effect, we will give you immunity. I will be your shield.’”

The Seat He'd Be Filling

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Kavanaugh has been nominated to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, the famous swing vote of the Supreme Court. Replacing Kennedy with Kavanaugh would signify the establishment of five staunch Republicans on the Supreme Court, essentially shoring up a generation's worth of legislation for the conservative side.

Kavanaugh's Legal Background

At the confirmation hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin said Kavanaugh can be viewed as the "Forrest Gump of Republican Politics" because he's always in the picture for a political battle on behalf of conservatives.

More specifically, Kavanaugh worked on behalf of George W. Bush during the Florida recount. He then worked as the staff secretary to Bush during his presidency. Prior to that, Kavanaugh also spent years investigating Bill Clinton, and even played a role in the infamous questioning Clinton received about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

In comparison, Justice Sonia Sotomayor worked as a district attorney and then moved her way through the judge circuits. Similarly, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a professor and volunteer lawyer, and Chief Justice John Roberts worked in the Department of Justice before working in private law leading up to his time at the Supreme Court.

The Timing

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Given that the Republican majority prevented Merrick Garland's nomination from moving forward for a full 293 days before it was dropped, several Democratic lawmakers are calling B.S. on Kavanaugh's process.

Chuck Schumer argued via CNBC, "Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016 — not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year ... "

Senators have also pointed out the dubiousness of appointing a Supreme Court justice at a time when a presidential administration is under investigation. Senator Booker said of the need to delay Kavanaugh's hearing, "I do not believe that this committee should or can in good conscience consider a nominee put forward by this president until that [Russia] investigation [by special counsel Robert Mueller] is concluded."

Kavanaugh's Stance On 'Roe v. Wade'

Perhaps the most discussed fear of Kavanaugh's appointment is that he will help overturn Roe v. Wade. Though he has maintained that he will "respect the precedent" set forth by the Supreme Court, people are still concerned about his appointment, given that Trump promised he would only nominate a pro-life justice.

Still, Kavanaugh said during the hearing for his appointment to the District Circuit (as seen in the video above), "If confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the Court. It's been decided by the Supreme Court."

His Views On The Second Amendment

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Kavanaugh is not likely to move the gun control and safety movement forward if elected as the next Supreme Court justice. He even wrote a dissent when his District Court in D.C. ruled that semiautomatic rifles and magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition were prohibited, according to NPR.

The NRA officially endorsed Kavanaugh's nomination for the Supreme Court, as well. Chris Cox, the executive director for the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said of the nomination via Vox, “He will protect our right to keep and bear arms and is an outstanding choice to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat.”

His Record On Environmental Regulation

According to the Environmental Working Group, Kavanaugh has ruled in favor of more pollution in 16 cases throughout his career.

Kavanaugh does believe in climate change, according to EWG — he's just not convinced that the EPA has the authority to do anything about it.

His Argument On Birth Control & Religious Freedom

In the past, Kavanaugh has argued that providing birth control coverage via Obamacare is an infringement on the religious freedom of employers.

He wrote in a dissent in 2015,

The essential principle is crystal clear: When the Government forces someone to take an action contrary to his or her sincere religious belief... or else suffer a financial penalty ..., the Government has substantially burdened the individual’s exercise of religion. So it is in this case.

What He Might Think Of LGBTQ Rights

Though Kavanaugh has not spoken out on his opinion of LGBTQ rights, he has been endorsed by organizations who are anti-LGBTQ. The Family Research Center, a pro-life, pro-marriage, and anti-LGBTQ organization, praised Kavanaugh's legislative history in an endorsement in July.

What He Could Do To The Affordable Care Act

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According to The Washington Post, the Supreme Court might end up deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act in the near future. The Trump administration has already filed a legal brief asking that court deem certain aspects of Obamacare invalid, including the provisions that require insurers to cover preexisting conditions.

And if Kavanaugh is on the bench when that happens, it's likely he will vote to dismantle it, given that he's already written a dissent arguing for that in the past.

If you are alarmed about the potential appointment of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court bench, there are two things you can do: you can alert your current senator about how you feel, and then you can vote carefully during the 2018 midterms. It's entirely possible that Kavanaugh's appointment won't have concluded by then, which is why it's so important to get out there and vote for legislators who will represent your interests from the local level to the highest level of the law.