Offbeat Opinions | Trump picked the wrong judge
Santorum on Kavanaugh: Trump bowed to Washington elite
Rick Santorum said Monday that President Donald Trump "bowed to the elite in Washington" by picking Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee. "Well, I think that Donald Trump said he was going to energize the base with this pick. I don't think he did that," the Republican former Pennsylvania senator and CNN political commentator told Chris Cuomo on CNN's "Cuomo PrimeTime." Kavanaugh has been dubbed a Washington insider, having worked in both Bush administrations, and is currently a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit.
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David French is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.
There was a moment, in the early afternoon of July 9, when conservatives contemplated the delightful possibility that they might witness the best possible version of President Trump — the man with the will (and flair for the dramatic) that would allow him to be bolder than the average Republican president. The best version of Trump would have been nominatedto the Supreme Court.
A Worthy Pick
President Trump’s new nominee for the Supreme Court is a whip-smart legal conservative. As a judge in the highest-profile appeals court in the nation, he has shown an exemplary dedication to the rule of law. He has defended the separation of powers against threats coming from multiple directions. He has repeatedly cautioned his colleagues on the bench not to attempt to play a legislative role. He has also insisted on enforcing constitutional structures of accountability on government agencies.
Would another Republican have the guts to put forward a nominee who would so clearly inflame the culture wars? Would another Republican president shatter the GOP nominee mold by selecting a mother of seven kids, an outspoken Christian and a graduate from a “normal” non-Ivy League law school? The base-motivating, electrifying pick was right there, in the palm of his hand.
Then, he went establishment. He chose a man that any Republican president would have nominated. He made the best safe choice he could: Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Make no mistake, there is a lot for conservatives to like about Kavanaugh. He dissented from the D.C. Circuit’s opinion upholding the District’s ban on semiautomatic rifles. He has written powerfully in opposition to the excesses of the administrative state and in favor of the proper separation of powers. He has been solid on free speech and religious liberty.
Brett Kavanaugh likely to bring pro-business approach to Supreme Court
In his years on a federal appellate court, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh tended to side with business on cases involving the environment, technology and consumer protection.In his dozen years as a federal appellate court judge, Judge Kavanaugh has tended to side with business interests in resolving regulatory issues and employment disputes in cases involving the environment, consumer protection and technology.
In many ways he’s the elitists’ elitist. Kavanaugh is a double Yale graduate — from both Yale University and Yale Law School — he clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, and he’s well known as a “feeder judge” for Supreme Court clerks. Before he was nominated to the federal bench, he worked for solicitor general Kenneth W. Starr during the George H.W. Bush administration, worked for Starr during theand investigations, and worked for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006.
There is arguably no better-credentialed nominee in all of conservative America, and a small army of his former law clerks have been busy writing — publicly and privately — in defense of their former boss, assuring conservatives that he will be the court’s next intellectual giant.
Yet the Kavanaugh pick has been greeted with an ever-so-slight sigh of disappointment. Yes, there are the critiques of his record. In Seven Sky v. Holder,from the majority opinion upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare, but he did so by holding that the suit was barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, in a ruling that bolstered the Obama administration’s ultimately successful claim that the Obamacare penalty was truly a tax.
Conservatives see Kethledge as 'Gorsuch 2.0'
Gorsuch 2.0. That's how conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt described Raymond Kethledge, the Sixth Circuit judge who reportedly sits near the top of President Trump's short list of candidates to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy's Supreme Court seat. Kethledge has gained the backing of conservatives for his strict, originalist approach to the law, and for his hostility toward an entity loathed on the right: the administrative state. Forme r White House chief strategist Steve Bannon once described the "destruction of the administrative state" as a central goal of the Trump administration, and it's one that conservatives think Kethledge could help hasten.
In Priests for Life v. Department of Health and Human Services,that the government had a “compelling interest” in “facilitating access to contraceptives” for employees of the specific religious plaintiffs in the case. That conclusion wasn’t required by Supreme Court precedent, and it cheapened the very concept of a “compelling governmental interest.” After all, religious employers have broad latitude to limit their employees’ conduct, and the government has little legal authority to meddle in the organization’s religious mission.
But, truth be told, Kavanaugh’s record isn’t the main reason for the flash of conservative regret. Give a judge a paper trail long enough, and he’ll decide cases that ignite controversy. No, the reason for the regret runs a bit deeper. Especially for America’s Christian conservatives, a potential Barrett nomination represented a chance for an important cultural moment — an opportunity for the best of young professional Christians to face the worst of progressive antireligion bias and prevail on the largest possible stage.
Pelosi slams Trump's 'despicable attacks' on Waters at rally
President Trump, at the campaign-style rally in Montana, called Rep. Maxine Waters a "low-IQ individual."Trump, at the campaign-style rally in Montana, called Waters a "low-IQ individual," a claim that he has repeated many times. He speculated her IQ is "somewhere in the mid-60s.
If “the dogma” could “live loudly” within her, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) famously told Barrett, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, at her confirmation hearing last year, and she could ascend to the Supreme Court, then she would quite possibly become the conservative folk-hero equivalent of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s not just that Barrett is qualified; she is. It’s that conservative Christians see her as qualified and a person they felt like they know. In many ways, her life story was their life story. They, too, belonged to communities of believers like. They, too, went to schools like /the University of Notre Dame.
Trump had — right in front of him — the judge who could be populist and principled; the person who could galvanize the base and be an originalist judicial bedrock for the next 30 years.
The president blinked. In the coming days and weeks, you’ll see conservatives rally around Kavanaugh. The judicial nomination wars will settle into their post-filibuster norm. It will be easy for Democrats to largely vote in lockstep. Kavanaugh’s credentials will make it easy for Republicans to do the same. In the coming years, he will make the court more originalist. He’ll certainly write at least some opinions that make conservatives stand up and cheer, but at roughly 9 p.m. on July 9, for a critical part of Trump’s base, the cheers for Kavanaugh were a tad forced.
There was, for the first time in Trump’s judicial wars, a palpable sense of an opportunity lost.
Collins opposes a nominee who would overturn abortion ruling .
A key vote on President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court says she'll oppose any nominee she believes would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Republican Sen. Susan Collins says such a nominee would "indicate an activist agenda."The White House is focusing on five to seven potential candidates to fill the vacancy of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote on the court. The Maine senator said she would only back a judge who would show respect for settled law such as the 45-year-old Roe decision, which has long been anathema to conservatives.
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