New Supreme Court Justice (U.S.): Brett Kavanaugh


On October 6th, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court judge by Senate; supported by every Republican save Senator Lisa Murkowski. Justice Kavanaugh previously served as a US Circuit Judge and Judge with the Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. He was a lead writer of the 1998 Starr Report and served on the George H.W. Bush administration as a judge with the Court of Appeals. Controversy has emerged around his nomination, given multiple allegations of sexual assault and an FBI investigation of limited scope, in which neither Judge Kavanaugh nor Dr. Ford were interviewed. As Senator Feinstein asserted, a public testimony is no substitute for interviews by FBI agents.

Kavanaugh J will be replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had represented “median justice” and the swing vote in previous years. Justice Kavanaugh’s ideological stances align more closely with Justices Gorsuch and Alito, positioning Justice Roberts as the new, right-wing median justice. Judge Kavanaugh’s seat on the Supreme Court bench makes the Court more partisan, predominantly in favour of conservative case law. Below are five points and case precedents which give an indication of Justice Kavanaugh’s future position on Supreme Court appeals:

  1. In the past, he has asserted that Congress should exempt a President from criminal prosecution or investigation, leaving impeachment as the sole option.
  2. Kavanaugh has also dissented to a ban of semiautomatic rifles in Columbia, deeming handguns as constitutionally protected and widely possessed (thus in common use, and not dangerous or unusual).
  3. Kavanaugh J holds conservative views on abortion and has affirmed that the government has “permissible interests in favoring fetal life”, which has raised concerns about a reversal of the landmark precedent Roe v Wade or more strict regulation of abortion.
  4. Kavanaugh J has defended the US government’s metadata collection program, stating that it “serves a critically important special need—preventing terrorist attacks on the United States” and that the national security implications outweigh the privacy concerns.
  5. Kavanaugh J deems net neutrality regulations “unlawful” and as violations of the First Amendment, since the rule would “impermissibly infringe on Internet service providers’ editorial discretion.”

This post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.