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It has been a riveting Supreme Court nomination process for Brett Kavanaugh, who went from sure thing confirmation to a new FBI investigation of his behavior in the space of a week. By now, the competing testimonies of Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford have been dissected, analyzed and reanalyzed. While it’s no longer a done deal, Kavanaugh could still make it onto the highest court in the land by the narrowest of margins (exactly what you want in a lifetime appointment, right?), so let’s take a look at Public Citizen’s recent analysis of Kavanaugh’s time on the U.S. Appeal Court.
Public Citizen? Who are these people? Good question. The organization is a pro-democracy nonprofit consumer advocacy and lobbying group founded in 1971. While it doesn’t endorse political parties or candidates, it does have a wee ax to grind. When Public Citizen brought a case against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Kavanaugh threw out the case, ruling the group had no standing to file the suit because they could not yet show a single individual who had already been killed or maimed by the failure to implement new safety standards.
What did they look at? The study analyzed Kavanaugh’s 1,000+ cases on the Washington, D.C. circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, putting aside unanimous decisions with little judicial gray area and focusing on more than 100 split decisions, where Kavanaugh disagreed with at least one other judge deciding the case.
There’s a pattern, right? You bet your best friend Squi there is! Kavanaugh is Mr. Fantastic when it comes to stretching legal logic in order to safeguard the rights of corporations and squash protections for the public. On cases regarding environmental protections, he almost always sided with the business interest or party arguing for looser standards. When a business argues the Environmental Protection Agency has overstepped, Kavanaugh tends to skewer the agency for being incompetent, but when organizations representing public interests sue because the federal government has done too little, he defers to the EPA’s expertise. Public Citizen says this is a legal double standard in favor of corporations, a habit for Kavanaugh. In seven cases regarding human rights abuses, Kavanaugh failed to side with the alleged victim even once. The greatest number of cases involved worker rights and regulatory issues. Kavanaugh ruled for the business interest seeking looser labor protections and federal regulations 85% of the time.
C’mon! Judges got to judge! Fair enough. We’ll leave you with this one specific example regarding net neutrality, something an overwhelming portion of the U.S. public favors. Back when the FCC finally passed the laws barring internet service providers from favoring some types of content over others and (partially) ensuring open public access to the internet, Kavanaugh ruled in a split decision that the U.S. government had no right to interfere with Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner and the other companies’ control of the internet. Net neutrality, Kavanaugh argued, violated the First Amendment rights of the internet and cable giants.