OPINION
08/08/2018 05:45 am ET

Brett Kavanaugh Is Rigged Justice

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Our rigged political system, supposedly under siege from all sides, is about to reach the height of its power: locking in control of the Supreme Court for a generation with one of its own shifting the balance. The son of a D.C. lobbyist family, a notorious leaker at the heart of the Ken Starr investigation, a career political operative in legal clothing, will be rammed onto the court while Republican senators keep his damning “paper trail” covered up.

You can almost hear the champagne corks ready to pop on K Street in a collective toast to President Donald Trump.

What you don’t hear is a lot of speculation about the intricacies of Brett Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy and where that might lead. Because we all know the answers — he’s spent his life fighting for partisan and big corporate agendas, and he’s been nominated to push that agenda on the court.

On the most profound issues facing all of us, Kavanaugh was chosen precisely because he comes with a guarantee to override the will of the people. His mission is to accomplish what the rigged system couldn’t hope to achieve through the legitimate democratic process.

On gutting and overturning Roe v. Wade, the fix is in. From the beginning, Kavanaugh has forged a career designed for this moment, saying all the right code words to reassure the right-wing lobbying groups dedicated to overturning Roe, paying homage to the dissent against the decision giving women the right to control their own bodies, while being just careful enough to let Republican senators play kabuki theater and pretend his position is mysterious. But there’s no mystery; the decisions are already rigged.

In fact the movement to overturn Roe, from the efforts by the Heritage Foundation to Jerry Falwell Jr., made a bargain: They would defend Trump through every imaginable moral and ethical disgrace, so long as he promised to choose from their pre-approved list of potential Supreme Court nominees who they knew would make the rulings they wanted. Out of that corrupt bargain sprang Kavanaugh’s name — see if you can find a single one of those lobbying groups complaining now.

Kavanaugh wasn’t nominated to apply his intellect and conscience to weighing the merits of these arguments, he was nominated to push the rigged system’s agenda.

On gutting and repealing the Affordable Care Act and health care protections, the fix is in there, too. The manufacturing of cynical political lawsuits to dismantle the ACA has become a cottage industry for Washington-based Republicans and their major donors, and the rigged system has churned out judges they know will play along with the game. 

The Trump administration, having failed in humiliating fashion to repeal the ACA in Congress last summer, has already corruptly gone along with a hack political lawsuit to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions, and Kavanaugh was chosen to finish the job. No serious legal commentator thinks the lawsuit is remotely legitimate, but no serious legal commentator really has any doubt that Kavanaugh would rubber stamp it either.

Kavanaugh wasn’t nominated to apply his intellect and conscience to weighing the merits of these arguments, he was nominated to push the rigged system’s agenda. Protections for people with pre-existing conditions will likely be one of the first things that Americans cherish to go on the chopping block, but it won’t be the last.

In general, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single person in America who thinks corporations have too little power, and working people have too much. Well, search no more. Before many working Americans even learned of Kavanaugh’s nomination, the Trump White House had blasted out a one-page sales pitch to every major corporate lobbying firm in Washington, citing the 75 times Kavanaugh had sided with big corporations. The obvious suggestion was that they could count on him to do so every time going forward.

It was their pitch for those big corporations and big polluters to pony up for TV ads supporting Kavanaugh’s nomination, and it paid off. Millions of dollars in ads are being aired in a swing state near you as we speak.

Kavanaugh has seemed to revel in crusading for the rights of corporations to abuse their workers. His dissent in the case stemming from the deaths of trainers at SeaWorld reads like a man planting a flag for big corporate immunity. Even in this horrendous circumstance, he would hold that government has no business telling corporations what to do.

It won’t end there, either. With the courts brushing Trump back from immigration policies so inhumane that they shame our country, Kavanaugh auditioned for the president by trying to force a young immigrant woman to carry her pregnancy against her will.

And as Trump and Republicans look to disenfranchise voters of color by the millions, through blatant voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering, nobody wonders whether those efforts will get Kavanaugh’s enthusiastic approval.

Then, of course, there is the most spectacular rigging of justice of all.

Jim Bourg / Reuters

We have a president whose entire family and campaign are under investigation for what would be one of the greatest betrayals of our country in history, who wants to appoint his own deciding judge to sort out the constitutional crisis he’s wrought. A president who obstructs justice out in the open, who has declared himself above the law countless times and chooses a nominee who not only agrees, but has taken the appalling position that President Richard Nixon should have been able to shield the Watergate tapes from the Department of Justice.

Far too few have seriously considered the consequences of a scenario, all too possible in the months ahead, in which Kavanaugh could be the deciding vote to shield Trump from criminal accountability and deem him above the law. Faith in our democracy would crater at home, to say nothing of abroad. They’d say our system is rigged, a sham, and what argument would we muster back?

Meanwhile, if confirmed, Kavanaugh’s job for the next 40 years will be to ensure that the rigged system continues to abet those same special interests he has spent a career serving, who put him on their precious list, and who are running the ad campaign to push through his Senate confirmation.

There’s one silver lining to all this, though. As of now, we still have a right for women to control their own bodies. We still have health care protections for every American as they make their way through life. We still have a shot for one worker to get justice against even the biggest multinational corporation. And we still have a country of laws, not of Trump. It’s not completely rigged just yet.

Republican senators say that nobody really cares, that they can’t hear you. So pick up the phone, get out in the streets, get down to their offices, and speak loudly so they can’t miss it.

Jesse Lee is vice president of communications for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. He previously served as special assistant to President Barack Obama and White House director of rapid response.

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