One of President Donald Trump’s leading prospects for the U.S. Supreme Court has in the past said that presidents should not be subjected to civil lawsuits, criminal investigations or even questions from attorneys while in office.
Kavanaugh has had personal experience in the area, since he was part of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s team that investigated President Bill Clinton.
In a 2009 article for the Minnesota Law Review Kavanaugh wrote:
“The nation’s chief executive should be exempt from time-consuming and distracting lawsuits and investigations, which would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis. If a president’s actions are truly malevolent then he can be impeached.”
A Supreme Court Justice who believes that presidents should be free of any type of civil or criminal legal inquiries until after they leave the presidency would presumably be someone that Donald Trump would be very interested in having on the highest court in the land. It is possible that a new justice may hear cases involving Trump himself, and would probably be the swing vote that might decide his fate.
If Kavanaugh were nominated to succeed Kennedy these topics will undoubtedly be a central focus of his confirmation hearings and be intensely explored by Senate Democrats. Such hearings may also play a role in this year’s midterm elections.
Stephen Vladeck, professor of constitutional law, said of Kavanaugh:
“He is a staunch defender of executive prerogative. The question is just how far he would go in cases really testing whether there is any limit to that theory.”
Trump announced on Friday that he has narrowed his list of Supreme Court finalists to five candidates, including two women, and he plans to unveil his chosen nominee on July 9. On Friday a spokesperson in the White House said that Kavanaugh is among those believed to be a contender, although he was was not on Trump’s original list of Supreme Court candidates released during the campaign.
Kavanaugh clerked for Justice Kennedy in 1993 and remains close to the justice and it is speculated that Trump added his name to the short list in order to make Kennedy more comfortable with his decision to retire from the Court.