The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, for Friday, September 28 at 9 a.m. Republicans are anxious to hold the vote on Kavanaugh because each day seems to bring new allegations and scrutiny against the 53-year-old, whose appointment would be for life. Over the last two weeks, three women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault at the hands of Kavanaugh in high school and college.
Christine Blasey Ford, who is set to testify to the Senate about Kavanaugh, recalled a party in high school at which Kavanaugh pinned her down and attempted to remove her clothes. The second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, claims Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face during a college party at Yale. On Wednesday, a third woman, Julie Swetnick, alleged that Kavanaugh and his friends spiked drinks at high school parties and raped the girls.
Kavanaugh denies the allegations. He has boasted about his record on women’s issues and claimed there is a conspiracy against him. Meanwhile his Republican allies have doubled down on chauvinism. Many have downplayed Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior as simple immaturity, or boys being boys. Others have attacked the credibility of the accusers, including President Trump, who said Ramirez “has nothing” and “was totally inebriated and she was all messed up” when Kavanaugh tried to put his genitalia on her face.
These defenses do little to assuage concerns that Kavanaugh and the GOP are dismissive of women’s issues. Indeed, many of the attacks, as described by the accusers, paint Kavanaugh not so much as a hormonal, out-of-control teen, but as a boys’ club member seeking approval by victimizing women. As writer Andi Zeisler noted on Twitter, “The common thread in every alleged incident was turning a girl into a joke to bond with other guys.”
At one time, Kavanaugh might have been able to issue a sincere enough apology to make this problem go away. Boys do stupid things when they’re growing up, and Kavanaugh could have taken the opportunity to call attention to them, express remorse, and make a pledge for change. But sincere apologies are not the politicians’ forte, and the increasing seriousness of the allegations make any admission of guilt less likely. Kavanaugh has become more defiant in his denial even as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called on him to withdraw.
Despicable and disqualifying as the allegations are, they have unfortunately shifted attention away from Kavanaugh’s appalling record as a judge. A report by the consumer advocacy nonprofit, Public Citizen, reviewed Kavanaugh’s record and found an “overwhelming tendency to reach conclusions favorable to corporations and against the public interest.” In cases involving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, or the American Petroleum Institute, Kavanaugh sided with the business lobby in 25 out of 33 cases.
In a 2017 case, Kavanaugh was alone on a three-judge panel when he sided with insurance giant Anthem in its bid to buy rival Cigna; had the deal gone through, it would’ve created a large insurance trust and likely raised premiums for consumers. Kavanaugh once argued that net neutrality, which requires internet service providers to treat all content on their servers equally, violates the First Amendment rights of communications giants like Comcast and Verizon. In 2016 he ruled that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which protects Americans from predatory creditors, was unconstitutional; his decision was later overturned.
President Trump surely loves Kavanaugh’s enthusiastic, pro-corporate record, but he may have had another reason for selecting the judge. In a 2009 article, Kavanaugh wrote, “I believe that the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office.” Kavanaugh further believed that any civil or criminal cases against a sitting president should be deferred until after that president leaves office, which would effectively immunize Trump from the Mueller investigation.
These are the most compelling reasons to exclude Brett Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court. Democrats have largely focused on Kavanaugh’s misleading testimony to Congress and doubled down on their #MeToo moment. It may pay off, as Senate Republican swing vote Lisa Murkowski has waffled in defense of Kavanaugh. But any examination of Kavanaugh’s judicial record should be more than sufficient to keep him off the bench.