Why Environmentalists Should Reject a Kavanaugh Confirmation

With Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court slated to start in less than three weeks, the race is on to learn everything that can be learned about a man who is likely to make critical decisions on behalf of the country for the next 30+ years.

Though the Republicans would like to confirm Kavanaugh before his full records are released, we already know his regressive views on gun, reproductive and LGBT rights. It’s also looking like he’ll be a total obstacle toward making any progress on environmental issues.

At first glance, Kavanaugh might seem better than most conservative judges when it comes to the environment since he actually says that climate change is both real and caused by humans. Nevertheless, his belief that we have a “moral imperative” to act is totally at odds with the way he rules on relevant cases.

As the Atlantic points out, because Kavanaugh served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, he has presided over more cases involving the EPA than most federal judges, and therefore his environmental record is exceedingly clear. Though his written opinions are sympathetic to environmentalism, they almost always block efforts to protect the planet.

Basically, Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy is one of anti-regulation and preventing agencies from taking any steps that aren’t clearly spelled out by Congress. Time and time again, he’s determined that the law and Constitution don’t allow the EPA to take the actions they need to in order to tackle climate change and other environmental threats.

At a certain point, all of the sympathy Kavanaugh may show for the cause is meaningless if he uses his position to thwart meaningful action. If he truly believes it is a “moral imperative” to act, he’s got to know that the messy sludge we call Congress cannot be counted on to do all of the heavy lifting. Besides, the fact that Congress signs off on an “Environmental Protection Agency” would suggest that legislators approve of a body tackling environmental issues.

With his particular judicial outlook, Kavanaugh frequently ends up falling to the right of even his conservative colleagues. In Howmet Corp. v EPA, Kavanaugh stated that the EPA had no business trying to regulate potassium hydroxide if it’s being “repurposed” as fertilizer. That’s a strange justification because repurposing it doesn’t make the substance any less toxic, so it seems fair for the EPA to put some safety restrictions on it.

In another case, he wanted to give the federal government (the George W. Bush administration at the time) a lot more power by allowing it to limit what states and cities could do to set air pollution limits. Again, even fellow Republican judges thought this went too far in preventing areas to adequately tackle their pollution problems.

This past week, dozens of major environmental organizations sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee to convey their disapproval of a Kavanaugh confirmation. They stressed the disparity between the times he’s found in favor of polluting companies over the public welfare.

We’re running out of time to save the planet. Acknowledging climate change is a start, but if Kavanaugh’s position is that the existing system does not allow agencies to actually address these ongoing threats, what is the point of any of this in the first place? His perspective is one that benefits corporations in the short term, and no one in the long term.

48 comments

Bill E
Bill E1 months ago

I listened to the Kavenaugh hearings today. He spent most of his time avoiding giving a direct answer to questions asked of him. He is not Supreme Court Material... in fact I really don't think that he belongs as a judge on any court of law.

SEND
Carol C
Carol C2 months ago

Another one of so many reasons to reject him. If he is confirmed the Supreme Court will be a threat to the environment and civil and human rights for years to come.

SEND
Chad Anderson
Chad A2 months ago

Thank you.

SEND
Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 months ago

Susanne,
Just another reason to vote against the major political parties.

SEND
Susanne R
Susanne R2 months ago

Source: NPR- 6/29/18 (link appears at bottom of comment box)
"McConnell argued that the Democrats had at least contemplated a similar tactic back in 1992, when Obama's vice president, Joe Biden, was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and mused about urging President George H.W. Bush to withhold any nominees to the high court until the end of the "political season." At the time, the Senate had just been through a bruising battle over the 1991 confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas. As it happened, no vacancy occurred in 1992. But McConnell and others referred to the "Biden rule nonetheless in justifying the blockade of Garland. McConnell used a "suggestion" that never became a "rule" to justify blocking the consideration of Merritt Garland's Supreme Court nomination." Mitch "the maggott" McConnell has no integrity.

The article goes on to state: "Now, of course, McConnell's calculus has changed. With a slim but steady majority of the Senate, and Vice President Mike Pence available to break a tie, McConnell feels confident he can confirm Trump's nominee and get his people out to vote again - this time, in gratitude."

So, McConnell makes and breaks alleged "rules" to benefit the Republican party. That was the "difference" between the two parties that I was trying to point out to Brian F. in another thread.

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/29/624467256/what-happened-with-merrick-garland-in-2016-and-why-it-matters-now

SEND
Susanne R
Susanne R2 months ago

I think the target audience of that question should be more expansive and not limited to Environmentalists, although I agree that the facts and opinions provided by Environmentalists are being ignored in favor of the profits that are being made by the Fossil Fuel industry. Why should "anyone" support Kavanagh? He's trump's selection, and trump's long history of criminal activities, lies, personal misconduct --not to mention his use of his office as a money making activity --are becoming more apparent with each passing day. The Republicans denied President Obama the ability to appoint Merritt Garland to the Supreme Court before Obama left office --and for no particular reason other than to keep a liberal Justice, selected by an African-American president, off the Supreme Court--and President Obama treated the Office of the President with respect and dignity. Why a proven liar and criminal should be given yet another opportunity to appoint yet another Supreme Court Justice only serves to defend their support of a corrupt, lying buffoon who degrades the Office of the President.
Some history behind Merritt Garland's treatment: (NPR - 6/29/18) McConnell argued that the Democrats had at least contemplated a similar tactic back in 1992, when Obama's vice president, Joe Biden, was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and mused about urging President George H.W. Bush to withhold any nominees to the high court until the end of the "political season."

SEND
David F
David F2 months ago

Winn A. Two can play the dim-witted game and waste everyone’s real post. Support Cavanaugh! Vote Red !!!!!

SEND
Winn A
Winn A2 months ago

Down with Cavanaugh! Vote Blue !!!!!!

SEND
Steve F
Steve F2 months ago

Brett Kavanaugh is the best that the Democrats can hope for. If they succeed in blocking him, the President will simply nominate the next person on his list. And the next, and the next. Voters will quickly grow weary of a party that wastes all of its time in obstruction.

The political resistance is merely for show. Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed, but some people feel a need to show what they are for. Or actually, what they are against.

SEND
Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 months ago

So Kevin prefers a judge who will disregard the law, as long as he rules according to his own wishes. The worst part is number of posters here approving of such action. Kind of reminds me of the lynch mobs of years past.

SEND