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Let's meet Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has a name like one of the guys Jessica Wakefield dated in the "Sweet Valley High" series. He was shipped to Trump from the Federalist Society through Amazon Prime.

A favorite of the Republican legal establishment in Washington, Kavanaugh, 53, is a former law clerk for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Like Trump's first nominee last year, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh would be a young addition who could help remake the court for decades to come with rulings that could restrict abortion, expand gun rights and roll back key parts of Obamacare.

"There is no one in America more qualified for this position and no one more deserving," said Trump in his prime-time televised address from the White House, calling Kavanaugh "one of the sharpest legal minds of our time."

Speaking at the White House, Kavanaugh pledged to preserve the Constitution and said that "a judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret the Constitution as written."

This is one of many things that annoy me about conservatives. They refuse to just say, "I will interpret the document written by slave owners in accordance with my right-wing ideology." Instead, they insist they are just looking at a cake and then objectively interpreting it as a cake that Christians don't have to bake for gay couples.


The spectacle surrounding the announcement itself wasn't normal, but Kavanaugh himself is. The conservatives who feared back in 2016 that a President Trump would nominate the likes of Judge Jeanine Pirro have come to trust Trump's court selections, which is easy to do when he's "outsourced" the selection of judges to the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. Where Kennedy was a true swing vote and key to favorable (for us commie scum) rulings on abortion, affirmative action, and gay rights, no one on the Federalist/Heritage short list would be.

Those feisty photogenic activists from Parkland High School could devote their collective might to pushing a boulder of a gun control bill up the legislative hill and a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling with Kavanaugh in the majority would send it tumbling back down.

Kavanaugh is not as openly hostile to abortion rights as some contenders were, which might concern some abortion foes but what's more critical to their overall aims is the superficial appearance of objectivity so Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have political clearance to vote for his confirmation. However, Kavanaugh's judicial views on abortion aren't theoretical.

Just last year, he infamously ruled against an undocumented teenager in a detention facility who had petitioned for the right to access an abortion. At one point during the hearing, Kavanaugh suggested that allowing the young woman go through with the procedure would make the government "complicit" in something that is morally objectionable. In addition, in 2015, he argued in a dissent that Barack Obama's contraception mandate infringed on the rights of religious organizations.


The Trump White House assigned former Republican senator Jon Kyl, now a pharmaceutical lobbyist, to hold Kavanaugh's hand down the aisle to the Supreme Court. Kyl goofily stated that he didn't "need maternity care" so why should the Affordable Care Act require insurers cover it, and his role here is a reminder that Trump still has his sights set on the health care law.

The Trump administration last month took dead aim at what's left of the Affordable Care Act after last year's botched attempt to repeal the law. The Trump administration joined a lawsuit by 20 states that would, if successful, end the requirement that health insurers cover those with preexisting conditions. The case is due to be heard in district court in Texas and could wind up before the Supreme Court — and Kavanaugh — soon.

Kavanaugh is a polarizing figure in the health-care debate. Among the things that distinguish him from the other finalists on Trump's list is his expansive view of executive power — he argued that a president could decline to enforce a statute such as Obamacare even if a court upholds its constitutionality — and his dissent in a 2011 case in which others on his appellate court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

So, we've got a fight on our hands, and we shouldn't expect support from our #NeverTrump conservative "friends." Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and all those federal judges Trump appointed that a President Ivanka Trump will later choose from for her Supreme Court picks, are what tempts those who worship at the altar of Reagan and Rand to look the other way when Trump abducts children and trades mixtapes with dictators. Monday's announcement was the part of the "Twilight Zone/Tales from the Darkside" episode where the devil character has delivered on his part of the bargain and everything's swell until the commercial break.

I'm not having fun yet, Ana.

It's easy for W. to say this. Trump never spanked him in public like he did his brother Jeb.

Yeah, I never cared for Jeb. Whenever conservatives boast that a judge will prove a strong "defender"of the Constitution, you know women will suffer. They could just replace "Constitution" with "Harvey Weinstein."

It also looks like Collins might fold like a cheap card table.

This shouldn't shock anyone. Even the almost-respectable Republicans support rolling back abortion and voting rights, gutting the Affordable Care Act, and "defending" religious liberty by trampling over LGBT Americans. Conservative pundits will appear on MSNBC and claim this is a "middle of the road" choice, but it really isn't. However, Kavanaugh or Thomas Hardiman were always who you were going to get with any Republican president, which is why left-leaning adults over 18 should've shown up and voted for Hillary Clinton. Even if you were a lifelong Green Party member who never in your life voted for a "corporate Democrat," you should've made an exception since there were Supreme Court justices with one foot on the grave and the other on a banana peel.

But enough of the blame game. We're all in this together (except for your #NeverTrump buddies). And this is one glimmer of hope.

Even the Washington Post op-ed Trump wrote himself under the pseudonym Donald von NotTrump was less fawning, but the Times is so often wrong that if it published an op-ed arguing I was black, I would immediately sell all my Gap Band records and throw out all the paprika in my spice cabinet. Maybe we can win this! Paul Begala already threw down the gauntlet.

Kavanaugh is a total swamp creature. Rather than choosing a judge from Indiana or Pennsylvania or other heartland states, President Trump went with a Beltway Boy, born and bred. Kavanaugh got to where he is the Washington way: by loyally serving powerful figures in the party -- first special prosecutor Ken Starr in his pursuit of Bill Clinton, then as a legal hit man in the Constitutional drive-by shooting of Bush v. Gore. And then, finally, as an aide to Pres. George W. Bush in the White House. Bush rewarded Kavanaugh's service by placing him on the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where he has consistently backed presidential power against the little guy or gal. Kavanaugh is the kind of guy who sucks up and spits down -- the epitome of a Beltway swamp creature. Nobody who rides a John Deere tractor all day will be able to relate to Beltway Brett.

That's a wicked dig, though Begala kind of stumbles on the dismount with “Beltway Brett,"which is basically the friendly nickname he might've had at a fraternity. I'd have gone with "Swamp Judge."

Kavanaugh's recent decisions offer red meat for Senate Democrats, especially Kamala Harris, to rip apart in the hearings. His involvement in such polarizing partisan matters as Clinton's impeachment and Bush v. Gore isn't like Justice Alito's history with the Concerned Alumni of Princeton. This is all within the past 20 years.

The theory that Kavanaugh believes a sitting president is above the law was roundly dismissed by noted legal scholar Justice Scalia's son, who I have every reason to trust, but Cory Booker will hammer Kavanaugh on the specific matter as it relates to Trump's legal concerns.


Also, there are some on the right who wanted a more extreme -- if you could believe it -- justice, such as Amy Cony Barrett. She's more "Handmaid's Tale" than Kavanaugh, but Mitch McConnell has no margin for error here. It might not be the "moderates" like Collins who could scuttle the nomination.



So, call, write, civilly protest. Maybe we don't have the numbers to win, but we have nothing to lose in trying. Maybe we can bloody a nose or two in the process.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work.

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