If you could grow a judge in a vat, and design every moment of their life to appeal perfectly to the Republican establishment, the man who would emerge fully-formed from that vat would be Brett Kavanaugh. A two-time Yale graduate, Kavanaugh clerked for the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, worked for Bill Clinton inquisitor Ken Starr, and served as one of President George W. Bush’s top White House aides.
Kavanaugh was a frequent opponent of President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and he ruled against abortion rights in one particularly heart-wrenching case. Judge Kavanaugh is smart, understands the inner workings of the federal government as well as any judge, and, if confirmed to replace Kennedy on the Supreme Court, is likely to play a major role in neutering agencies like the EPA and the Department of Labor.
Yet it is also worth noting that, when faced with conservative litigants seeking maximalist remedies from his court, Kavanaugh sometimes looked for narrow solutions. He would have allowed the Trump administration to delay some women’s abortions, for example, without ruling that these women could be denied an abortion altogether. Judge Kavanaugh’s record indicates that he is very conservative, but that he may not be a nihilist in the vein of Neil Gorsuch. [Continue reading…]