By Dean Miller
To fill the position of retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Judge Kavanaugh has a very long and very negative history with regard to personal rights of Americans citizens. Judge Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice would be a GRAVE danger to the rights of ordinary American citizens.
As a judge, Kavanaugh always votes the wrong way. He has always voted in favor of policies that remove rights from average citizens. Judge Kavanaugh always votes in favor of large corporations at the expense of average citizens. He always puts the “rights” of corporations over the rights of citizens.
Soon after Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination was announced, the White House began circulating to business leaders a memo promoting his pro-business rulings. The memorandum said the judge had overruled federal agencies some 75 times. The memo said “Judge Kavanaugh protects American businesses from illegal job-killing regulations,” There is no evidence that regulations kill jobs.
Kavanaugh is opposed to labor unions. He opposes our freedom to join together in strong unions to be a check on the power of corporations and set standards for our safety, benefits, and pay.
Kavanaugh opposes consumer protection. In one of Judge Kavanaugh’s best-known rulings, he said the legal structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was unconstitutional because it was led by a single director, unlike other agencies with several commissioners. Judge Kavanaugh sought to remedy the problem by empowering the president to fire the director.
Kavanaugh has favored limiting the power of federal regulatory agencies, including those regarding “net neutrality”. Judge Kavanaugh took a position favored by some big telecommunications companies when he wrote a dissenting opinion in a case that had upheld the Obama administration’s net neutrality regulation. The rule, passed by the Federal Communications Commission, required big internet providers to treat data equally and to not favor some data companies over others. The judge said the rule violated the First Amendment by interfering with the editorial decision-making of Internet providers. So, as always with Kavanaugh, the rights of corporations supplants the rights of average citizens.
Kavanugh is opposed to a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. He lauded the late Chief Justice Rehnquist for dissenting in Roe vs. Wade. Kavanaugh ruled with the Trump Administration when they tried to refuse abortion services to Jane Doe, an undocumented minor who sought to terminate an unwanted pregnancy while being detained in a federal immigrant shelter. Kavanaugh also wrote that employers’ religious beliefs should allow them to deny their employees birth control coverage. So, apparently, he believes a woman can’t use birth control and can’t have an abortion.
Kavanaugh, for some reason, opposes health benefits from employers. The Judge routinely ruled against working families, rejecting their rights to receive employer-provided health care in the workplace. He also sided with employers to deny employees relief from workplace discrimination.
Kavanaugh’s opinions also suggest he would align with Trump to gut the Affordable Care Act, allowing profitable health insurance companies to discriminate against millions of people with pre-existing conditions. In his 2012 dissent on a ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act, he suggested that a future president could refuse to enforce the ACA even if it was upheld by the Supreme Court. He has refused to defend the Affordable Care Act, ruling that the no-cost birth control requirement infringed employers’ religious liberty. Thus, he once again ruled in favor of the “rights” of corporations over the rights of citizens.
Kavanaugh is opposed to the separation of church a state. Kavanaugh, a zealous Catholic, lauded former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist for rejecting the notion of “a wall of separation between church and state” (Thomas Jefferson’s words). Kavanaugh noted that Rehnquist had maintained that the “wall of separation between church and state” was a misleading metaphor “based on bad history.” “Throughout [Rehnquist’s] tenure and to this day,” he added, the court has “sought to cordon off public schools from state-sponsored religious prayers.” Note that he wanted “state-sponsored” prayers, even though this is prohibited by the Constitution. Kavanaugh also noted how Rehnquist wrote a court opinion upholding a state law that gave parents government tax money to pay for sending their children to religious schools.
Judge Kavanaugh has consistently ruled against environmental protections. He struck down EPA protections under the Clean Air Act, opposed efforts to fight climate change, and stood against protections for clean water.
But above all, the most alarming concern is that Kavanaugh allows policies that promote an oppressive government. He has an expansive view on executive power. He believes that presidents should not be distracted by lawsuits or investigations while in office. Kavanaugh argues that presidents can’t be indicted, sued, or even investigated.
Two years ago, Judge Brett Kavanaugh expressed his desire to overturn a three-decade-old Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of an independent counsel. Speaking to a conservative group in 2016, Kavanaugh bluntly said he wanted to “put the final nail” in Morrison v. Olson, which upheld the constitutionality of provisions creating an independent counsel as part of the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. But despite his aversion to independent counsels investigating a President (such as the Mueller investigation), Kavanaugh had no problem with the independent counsel that investigated President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh worked for Ken Starr, who famously investigated President Bill Clinton.
Also, Kavanaugh once suggested that the Supreme Court decision that forced President Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes may have been “wrongly decided.”
Kavanaugh has said that banning assault rifles would be like banning speech, declaring that an assault rifle ban is unconstitutional.
Kavanaugh has also defended police abuses. He lauded the late Chief Justice Rehnquist’s unsuccessful effort to throw out the so-called “exclusionary rule,” which forbids police from using illegally obtained evidence – i.e., he thinks police can use evidence illegally obtained. He also opposed a court ruling that police must warn suspects of their right to remain silent and to consult with a lawyer. And he has argued for restricting the rights of citizens to access our court system.
Kavanaugh has said he will follow the Constitution, but his record shows that he has regularly, on every issue he has faced, promoted policies that are the opposite of – to the contrary of – the Constitution.
“My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law,” Kavanaugh said. “A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”
Even though Kavanaugh wrote that a sitting President should not be the subject of a criminal investigation (which is not in the Constitution), Kavanaugh was in the thick of Ken Starr’s ruthless pursuit of President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh helped participate in Starr’s investigation of President Clinton while he was in office, helped author the Starr Report, and helped draft the impeachment against President Clinton.
Also, the Constitution is clear regarding the separation of church and state, yet Kavanaugh was sympathetic to state-sponsored prayers in schools and tax-payer funded religious education, as mentioned earlier.
It is obvious why Trump nominated Kavanaugh. Did Trump not choose Kavanaugh to help legally protect himself? Kavanaugh is a get-out-of-jail free card if the Trump/Russia investigation goes to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has an expansive view on executive power – a belief that presidents should be immune from lawsuits, indictments, or criminal investigations while in office.
President Trump already believes in expansive presidential powers. He doesn’t need another justice who agrees what that. If any president should be given carte blanche, it’s definitely not this one.
President Trump currently is a subject of an ever-expanding investigation. The investigation is ongoing, and it seems like there are new developments breaking every day. A number of people close to President Trump or his campaign team have already pled guilty as a result of the Mueller probe. Thus far, from Trump’s team, Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has produced 20 subjects of charges, 23 indictments, 70 charges, 5 guilty pleas, and 1 prison sentence. The investigation could very well end up before the Supreme Court — a clear conflict of interest that should prevent this President from making any Supreme Court nominations while the investigation is ongoing.
Add to that the president’s history of demanding loyalty tests. This President has flirted with pardoning himself, and he has pardoned many others of questionable innocence.
It’s clear his Supreme Court nominee could end up in an untenable position. The nominee may well be forced to choose between an unconstitutional oath of loyalty to President Trump and an oath to uphold the Constitution as a Supreme Court justice.
This whole process is going to move extremely fast. The Republicans in Congress are rushing the process in order to confirm a new justice before the next election this fall – and to act before the American people have a chance to realize what’s at stake.
With his pick of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Trump has nominated someone who will put our access to the courts, our rights, our health, our safety, and the environment at risk. Judge Kavanaugh has consistently ruled against environmental protections, struck down EPA protections under the Clean Air Act, opposed efforts to fight climate change, and stood against protections for clean water.
Kavanaugh has also favored limiting the power of federal regulatory agencies, while arguing for corporate deregulation and unlimited executive powers for the President of the United States. He has an expansive view on executive power and a belief that presidents should not be distracted by lawsuits or investigations while in office.
Kavanaugh believes the President is above the law. He has expressed disturbing views on presidential power and would fail to be an independent check on President Trump.
A Supreme Court nominee should be fair, independent and committed to protecting the rights, freedoms and legal safeguards that protect citizens, not the chief executive or corporations. But Judge Brett Kavanaugh does not meet this standard.
Judge Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice would be a GRAVE danger to the rights of American citizens.
We must urgently oppose the confirmation Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This includes supporting the delay of a confirmation vote. If there is a vote, we must urge our Senators to vote NO to Judge Kavanaugh.
From The Charter & The Bylaws of the Democratic Party of the United States, as amended by the Democratic National Committee, February 3, 2007:
Section 17. Democratic Party Credo
We Democrats are the oldest political party in America and the youngest in spirit. We will remain so, because we enjoy the challenge of government.
Time and again, for almost two centuries, the Democratic Party has made government work — to build and defend a nation, to encourage commerce, to educate our children, to promote equal opportunity, to advance science and industry, to support the arts and humanities, to restore the land, to develop and conserve our human and natural resources, to preserve and enhance our built environment, to relieve poverty, to explore space. We have reached difficult and vital goals.
We recognize that the capacity of government is limited but we regard democratic government as a force for good and a source of hope.
At the heart of our party lies a fundamental conviction, that Americans must not only be free, but they must live in a fair society.
We believe it is the responsibility of government to help us achieve this fair society.
• A society where the elderly and the disabled can lead lives of dignity and where Social Security remains an unshakable commitment;
• A society where all people can find jobs in a growing full-employment economy;
• A society where all workers are guaranteed without question the legal right to join unions of their own choosing and to bargain collectively for decent wages and conditions of employment;
• A society where taxes are clearly based on ability to pay;
• A society where the equal rights of women are guaranteed in the Constitution;
• A society where the civil rights of minorities are fully secured and where no one is denied the opportunity for a better life;
• A society where both public and private discrimination based upon race, sex, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, economic status, philosophical persuasion or physical disability are condemned and where our government moves aggressively to end such discrimination through lawful means;
• A society where we recognize that the strengthening of the family and the protection of children are essential to the health of the nation;
• A society where a sound education, proper nutrition, quality medical care, affordable housing, safe streets and a healthy environment are possible for every citizen;
• A society where the livelihoods of our family farmers are as stable as the values they instill in the American character;
• A society where a strong national defense is a common effort, where promoting human rights is a basic value of our foreign policy, and where we ensure that future by ending the nuclear arms race.
THIS IS OUR PURPOSE AND OUR PROMISE.
The Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee held its reorganization meeting on Saturday June 16th in Harrisburg. The State Committee elected Nancy Patton Mills as Chair of the State Party, Sen. Sharif Street as Vice Chair, and Alexander Reber as Treasurer.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills issued the following statement:
“I’m very proud and honored to be the Chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. I appreciate the confidence of the state committee in electing me. I pledge to every corner of the commonwealth that I will work diligently to bring people together and into the Democratic Party. We are united, and Democrats across Pennsylvania are ready to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.
“It is my pleasure to serve with Senator Sharif Street as the Party’s Vice Chair and Alexander Reber as the Party’s Treasurer. I’m also proud to work with Janet Diaz as the Party’s Corresponding Secretary and Kathryn Huggins as the Party’s Recording Secretary.
“I’m proud to have Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Bob Casey at the top of our ticket, a candidate in every Congressional district, and a record number of State House and State Senate candidates. Our candidates fight for our shared values and for all Pennsylvanians — we are going to fight for them.”
Senator Sharif Street ,the newly elected Vice-Chair, currently represents the 3rd PA Senatorial District which includes Philadelphia. Before his election to the State
Senate in 2016, Street was a practicing attorney and political adviser in Philadelphia.
Alexander Reber, newly elected Treasurer is an accountant with the Miller Dixon Drake firm. Additionally, Mr. Reber serves as the 1st Vice Chair of the Dauphin County Democratic Committee.
In our Democracy, the voters choose their representatives, these reps each have an area (or district) that they represent. The U.S. Constitution says that a census must count each state’s inhabitants every 10 years. This count is then used to determine (or draw) the districts, by allocating roughly the same number of voters to each district. This is done for both federal and state house and senate offices.
Pennsylvania law puts the state legislature in charge of redrawing the district boundaries based on the census: a bill defining the new districts is passed by the House and Senate and then signed by the Governor. The majority party can re-draw the boundaries of voting districts so that their party stays in power. The worst outcomes occur when one party controls both state houses and the governorship.
When the lines are being redrawn, sophisticated mapping programs and detailed voter data can identify exactly how to draw district lines so that the majority party stays in power. Counties and municipalities can be split into multiple districts, and more liberal urban areas can be combined with more conservative rural areas. This process of redefining federal and state electoral boundaries in order to determine the outcome of races is called gerrymandering. The outcome can lead to some very bizarrely shaped districts, for example, Pennsylvania’s 7th District, which was nicknamed, “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.”
The three main techniques used to obtain this advantage are “cracking”, “packing”, and a “sweetheart” gerrymander (also known as a “partisan handshake”).
• Sweetheart: the two parties work together to ensure that incumbents from both parties are re-elected.
• Cracking: the minority party’s voters are split up, distributing them into several districts so their votes are an irrelevant minority.
• Packing: putting an oversupply of the opposing party’s voters into a few districts. The outcome of this technique is that the party in power is giving up that one district’s seat, but securing the safety of many others.
For decades, and until the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, racial gerrymandering diluted the power of minorities in urban areas, the South, and the Southwest. However, the Supreme Court has not declared political gerrymandering illegal, so cracking and packing persist.
Many analysts agree that gerrymandering protects incumbents, increases partisanship and affects campaign costs, particularly in the years before and after the census. That is why 21 states now have nonpartisan or bipartisan redistricting commissions. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently declared that the US Congressional Districts were unfairly gerrymandered, and imposed a newly drawn map for the 2018 election. This new (and temporary) map is an improvement (and MontCo is largely in one district). However, PA state assembly and senate districts were not impacted by that court decision and are still heavily gerrymandered.
In order to change the way that these maps are drawn, we have to have bills that are passed by PA house and senate prior to the 2020 census. Bills that were written to have a non-partisan commission redraw the maps (House Bill 722 and Senate Bill 22) were gutted in committee, and they now have little to do with the bills that were originally written. Communities across the state, including Collegeville, passed resolutions in support of this type of commission, but the Republicans were able to change the bills in committee.
If you want to make a change, please call your elected officials.
For more information about gerrymandering, click here.
For more information about the PA Supreme Court decision, click here.