Nomination puts rights in jeopardy

Julianne Malveaux | 7/26/2018, 6 a.m.
Senate Republicans hope to get Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, confirmed before Oct. 1. ...
Julianne Malveaux

Senate Republicans hope to get Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, confirmed before Oct. 1. Senate Democrats hope to hold off any vote until after the November elections, when Democrats have the possibility of taking a majority in the U.S. Senate and giving Republicans a dose of their own medicine. 

Bravo to Senate Democrats who have not yet scheduled meetings with Judge Kavanaugh. The Democrats are treating him slightly better than Republicans treated Judge Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Unfortunately, with a Republican majority in the Senate, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate majority leader, can schedule a hearing without Democratic concurrence. If Republicans stick together, and if the calendar is favorable, Judge Kavanaugh can be voted in without any Democratic support.

Most of the scrutiny of Judge Kavanaugh has focused on the possibility that he would vote to overturn Roe V. Wade, the legislation that guarantees abortion rights in the United States. Judge Kavanaugh has assured all who will listen that he honors judicial precedent. 

While he isn’t likely to vote to overturn Roe, he is extremely likely to rule in favor of limiting abortion rights. This might persuade GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Arkansas to vote against his confirmation. Several women’s organizations have weighed in against Judge Kavanaugh, largely because of his perceived positions on Roe. 

Depending on how he answers questions in a hearing, Judge Kavanaugh might lose the support of moderate Republican women senators. But abortion rights aren’t the only rights on the line if Judge Kavanaugh is voted onto the Supreme Court, and I’m frustrated that so many women have so narrowly focused on abortion rights. 

What about voting rights? In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court trashed Title 4(b) (and thus also Title 5) of the Civil Rights Act. Chief Justice John Roberts, who naively believes that the way to stop racism is to simply stop mentioning it, would trash the entire Voting Rights Act, and affirmative action, too, if he had his way. 

He does not believe that disparate impact means discrimination and would likely oppose any state action that made adjustments to prevailing practice because African- Americans or other people of color are getting the short end of the stick. Laws that prevent discrimination, according to Justice Roberts, are unconstitutional. Judge Kavanaugh is likely to follow Judge Roberts in voting against any legislation that is “race conscious.” 

Not only is Judge Kavanaugh likely to threaten voting rights and civil rights, but he is also expected to threaten consumer protection. Already, the Consumer Financial Protection Board has been under attack. When federal Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a Republican, led the office on an interim basis, he did everything he could to render the agency inefficient, including submitting a zero budget for the agency. 

Now, President Trump has nominated Mr. Mulvaney’s assistant, Kathy Kraninger, to replace him as CFPB leader. Ms. Kraninger, a Georgetown University law graduate, has absolutely no background in consumer protection or financial services. Ms. Kraninger should not be confirmed to lead the CFPB.

But the agency may be short-lived if Judge Kavanaugh becomes a justice on the Supreme Court. He has ruled that the CFPB is “unconstitutional” and “a threat to individual liberties.” Through his rulings, predatory bankers have been able to avoid paying millions of dollar of fines. He is on record opposing regulation and consumer protection and will make life much more challenging for everyday black folks.

Judge Kavanaugh also has been a strong proponent of presidential power and would likely cover for President Trump in individual lawsuits and prevent government agencies, or others, from bringing lawsuits against Mr. Trump. 

The white women who consider their top issue in vetting a Supreme Court justice the abortion issue are being extremely shortsighted. There are plenty more reasons to be adamantly opposed to this nominee. Perhaps U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, the lone black Republican in the Senate, will be swayed by the Kavanaugh position on voting rights. Maybe other Republicans will grow a conscience. 

Or perhaps Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate minority leader, can hold the line on a vote until November.

In any case, abortion rights aren’t the only rights on the line if Judge Kavanaugh makes it to the Supreme Court.

The writer is an economist and author.