WPRI: Local leaders react to Kavanaugh nomination

WPRI: Local leaders react to Kavanaugh nomination

By: Caroline Goggin

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Standing next to his wife and daughters, conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump Monday night. This was the president’s second Supreme Court pick since taking office.

“My judicial philosophy is straightforward,” Kavanaugh said. “A judge must be independent, and must interpret law as written. A judge must interpret the constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

Kavanaugh, 53, was born in Washington, D.C. and currently sits on the D.C. circuit. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, and later gained national attention from his time working for former independent counsel Ken Starr during the investigation of then-president Bill Clinton.

Roger Williams University law professor Peter Margulies described Kavanaugh as “exceptionally bright.”

“Great track record on the D.C. circuit, and great credentials,” Marguiles said. “So in that sense, President Trump couldn’t have picked a better person. But in terms of his general perspective, he is highly conservative. So, conservatives will be happy about that.”

Margulies said if Kavanaugh is confirmed, he believes that could eventually lead to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

“It certainly will be at risk,” he explained. “I think the court’s approach will be to first uphold state laws that in some ways limit access to abortion. But over time, I think there will be states that will be encouraged by the selection of Judge Kavanaugh, that will have laws in place that categorically and absolutely prohibit abortion.”

Kavanaugh will need 51 votes to be confirmed in the Senate, and Margulies said he does not believe attaining confirmation will be difficult.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse criticized Trump’s nomination.

“Special interests approved this nominee,” he said. “The confirmation process will be powered by massive, secretive spending by their phony front groups. That’s why Brett Kavanaugh must convince me he can actually be independent. I, along with the American people, will not tolerate a rigged system anymore.”

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed claimed Kavanaugh, if confirmed, would “pose a serious threat to Americans’ access to health care and their civil liberties.”

“I opposed Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lower court seat because of his overtly partisan background,” he said. “I did not believe he was a good fit to serve on the DC Circuit then, and I do not think he is a good fit for the Supreme Court now.”

“President Trump had an opportunity to put forth a mainstream nominee who could bring the country together,” Reed continued. “Instead, he once again chose partisanship and the powerful over the interests of hardworking Americans.”

Kavanaugh was tapped to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring. Congressman Jim Langevin expressed concern that his independent voice will be missed.

“Throughout his tenure, Justice Kennedy provided a pivotal vote on several important cases, and some of his most memorable decisions empowered the disadvantaged,” he stated. “From privacy rights to affirmative action to marriage equality, he believed in the rights of people to live and love unburdened by the weight of historical oppression. Although I did not agree with all of Justice Kennedy’s opinions, we must consider the significant role he played on the Court and his impact on women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.”

“While I do not have a role in the confirmation process,” Langevin added, “it is critical that my colleagues in the Senate subject Judge Kavanaugh to a careful vetting process and fully consider the impact of his future decisions on the lives of the American people.”