The Kavanaugh Effect on the Supreme Court

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By:  Emma West

America is facing one of the most tumultuous Supreme Court nominations our country has ever seen. An FBI investigation is currently underway to probe into Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s past. Most Democrats are hoping for a drawn-out, thorough investigation that exposes damning evidence about Kavanaugh’s alleged incidents of sexual assault and misconduct, while many Republicans want a speedy, no-frills, uneventful examination that resolves itself within the week.

But what then? Well, the nomination will be sent to the full Senate, which could take anywhere from days to weeks to happen. Eventually, there will be a decision: Brett Kavanaugh will be a Supreme Court Justice, or he will not.

So what does it mean if Kavanaugh is confirmed? While the media is overwhelmed with scandal and speculation, here are the ideological changes that will be seen on the Supreme Court if the Senate decides to confirm Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh, politically, is very conservative; according to, Kavanaugh “would have the second most conservative score (0.693) on the bench if confirmed, next to Justice Clarence Thomas (0.725).” Justice Anthony Kennedy, the retiree, was too a Republican; however, he leaned liberal on many cases. Kavanaugh’s appointment on the Court would result in a substantial shift to the right.

Presumably, one of the main reasons for President Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh was his stance on presidential privileges while in office. In a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article, Kavanaugh wrote that “Congress might consider a law exempting a President — while in office — from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.” If Kavanaugh takes a seat on the Supreme Court, any vote of his on issues to do with an investigation into Trump will favor the president.

In the long term, however, some of his views are more moderate. For example, Kavanaugh claims that he respects the precedent set by Roe V. Wade and will not attempt to overturn the decision.

His conservative side shows in his other views: regarding the issues of government regulation, religion and the second amendment (among others), Kavanaugh is your typical conservative Republican. He opposes almost any form of government regulation, even in the Sea World case that sanctioned Sea World after an orca attacked and killed its trainer. He has repeatedly sided with religious institutions in various cases and dissented in a decision to uphold a semiautomatic weapon ban in Washington D.C.

Because of Judge Anthony Kennedy’s moderation, Kavanaugh’s conservatism could be a significant change on the Court. Though the court would still be four liberal Democrats and five Republicans, a moderate, swing-vote Republican would be replaced by a very conservative justice. This consistent conservative vote could be the decider in many close decisions for years to come.

Will it be Kavanaugh or KavaNOT? We’ll have to wait and see, but our Court will face a significant change with him on the bench.

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