By Judith Shamir:
Donald Trump has always made it abundantly clear that his choice for the Supreme Court would be someone who, like him, is staunchly determined to overturn abortion rights as well as many other civil and human rights. In picking Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee, he is fulfilling that promise.
Kavanaugh’s pick is the most frightening of all the prolific steps toward autocracy that the Trump regime has taken so far. Seeing Trump’s cozy conversation, just concluded, with his Russian puppet master in Helsinki highlights the danger of picking a nominee with so little regard for rights and rule of law.
Whatever he might say about respecting precedent and giving due consideration to the facts of each case, Mr. Kavanaugh has demonstrated that he will not hesitate to bend the law to serve his views. In a dissenting opinion on a recent DC Circuit Court decision, Kavanaugh argued against allowing a young undocumented woman to access abortion care, putting her health at risk by delaying the procedure. In another dissent, he argued that the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement places a “substantial burden” on religious employers who seek exemption from this mandate.
Some might say that we dodged a bullet – that Kavanaugh is actually more “moderate” than other potential nominees. Should we feel relief then? Certainly not. Kavanaugh believes the President should not be subject to subpoena or charged with a crime while in office. His writings indicate that he would favor dismissing the independent counsel’s investigation as unconstitutional, making the prospect of his participation in Supreme Court rulings regarding the Mueller investigation yet another dramatic threat to American democracy.
At the Helsinki conference, Trump’s allegiance to Putin and his blatant disregard for the integrity of American security institutions was so overt that Putin practically danced onto the stage for the final press briefing. Moving forward with the appointment of Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court will afford Trump and his Russian idol an opportunity to do even more, possibly irreversible, damage to our democracy.
Democratic senators should employ every possible legislative, legal, and parliamentary tool to prevent or at least delay confirmation. Despite the odds, they should endeavor to be a “brick wall” — as former Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe was against abortion restrictions — blocking any Supreme Court confirmation before the new Congress is seated in January. If a vote cannot be prevented, every Democrat without exception should be expected to vote against approval.
Any Democrat seeking re-election who cannot stand firm on this issue should not receive party support. This is risky for red-state Democrats. Yet I believe that, overall, the Democratic Party derives its greatest strength and energy from adhering firmly to our stated principles. Backing down for what appears to be political expediency makes the party look weak. It motivates many concerned voters to support third party candidates and thereby threatens our ability to regain the leadership in Washington.
We stand at a critical time. We have seen this movie before — the rise of cruel despots in countries where people remained complacent and refused to believe the autocrat’s own words. Yes, it can happen here but, as Democrats, we must prevent it by standing strong and united. A brick wall!
Judith Shamir is a member of the Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee and a retired director of membership and governance for national health-related organizations