A Long Time to Deliberate: Kavanaugh’s Decidedly Conservative Court

Harvard Political Review
by Jessica Boutchie
July 19, 2018


On Monday, July 9, 2018, in a grand ceremony fit for the choice’s importance, President Trump announced his next nominee for the Supreme Court: Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a current federal appeals court judge and former law clerk for the very justice he replaces. At just 53 years of age, 32 years younger than the oldest sitting justice, Kavanaugh holds the potential to be a strong conservative voice on the Supreme Court for years to come. A proponent of textualism and originalism, he has authored approximately 300 opinions during his 12 years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Kavanaugh is also considered “one of the most accomplished and impressive appellate judges in the country,” according to Harvard Law School professor Michael Klarman.

Still, Kavanaugh’s nomination is not without contention. Mere minutes after the official announcement of Kavanaugh’s nomination, several Democratic leaders — Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) among them — held a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court encouraging voters to fight to “defend Roe v. Wade.” Likewise, as an Ivy League graduate, former clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy, and former White House staffer to President George W. Bush, Kavanaugh has been criticized as a member of the “GOP legal elite.”

His political ideology has also prompted controversy. According to Klarman, like “a lot of politically conservative judges who purport to be textualist or originalist,” Kavanaugh may be more inclined to rule based upon his political ideology instead of his theory of constitutional interpretation. This observation, continued Klarman, may prove particularly true in cases with a possible “liberal political outcome.”

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