Last night, just hours after Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appeared to have secured enough votes to be confirmed, a warning was issued by a current Supreme Court Justice.
Associate Justice Elena Kagan said Friday she is afraid that the high court going forward will not have a justice who will serve as a swing-vote on important cases.
Kagan appeared at a conference for women at Princeton University with fellow Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who also represents the Supreme Court’s liberal wing.
Giving some Supreme Court history, Justice Kagan reminded the audience that over the past three decades, first with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and then with Justice Anthony Kennedy, there has always been a swing vote.
To Kagan, the importance of the swing vote is that he or she was the person on the court “who found the center or people couldn’t predict in that sort of way.”
“It’s not so clear, that I think going forward, that sort of middle position — it’s not so clear whether we’ll have it,” Kagan lamented.
“All of us need to be aware of that — every single one of us — and to realize how precious the court’s legitimacy is,” she added. “It’s an incredibly important thing for the court to guard is this reputation of being impartial, being neutral and not being simply extension of a terribly polarizing process.”
Kagan was an appointee of former President Barack Obama. Many liberals were outraged when Justice Kennedy announced his retirement earlier this year, giving Donald Trump a second Supreme Court appointee in as many years.
Kennedy had cast the deciding vote on many high-profile and nationally important cases during his tenure. So his retirement has caused great concern that the court will not have a swing-vote going forward. This could affect abortion rights, gay rights, women’s rights, union’s rights and voting rights, to name just a few areas of concern.
A final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, ending weeks of controversy caused by allegations of sexual assault and perjury against Trump’s nominee.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced Friday that she would vote for Kavanaugh, giving him enough support to get confirmed. The announcements came about a week after Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Ford, his first accuser, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Dr. Ford’s claims that he sexually assaulted her at a high school party in 1982 in Maryland.
Kavanaugh has strongly denied all accusations. He has also denied all sexual misconduct claims from multiple other women, including Michael Avenatti client Julie Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez, a classmate from Yale University.
A week ago the FBI began a supplemental background check into Kavanaugh. Republican senators said that the FBI’s report on Kavanaugh found no corroboration for sexual misconduct allegations against him. Democrats immediately called the FBI probe a sham and a farce since few witnesses were interviewed and the results were not made public.
Due to his conservative credentials, it appears that Kavanaugh will immediately join the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc. This will mean that Justice Kagan is correct, and there will be a very strong conservative 5-4 majority on the court.
The implications for Kavanaugh’s approval to the high court will not be fully known for many years, but as of right now it does not appear to be a good thing for America.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.