Dear Mr. Westward:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. I appreciate hearing from you.
On June 27, 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court of the United States after 30 years of service. Two weeks later, on July 9, President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy. Previously nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by President George W. Bush, Judge Kavanaugh has served on that court since 2006. Prior to that, he worked in the George W. Bush administration in the White House counsel’s office and as staff secretary.
During his candidacy, President Trump pledged that he would select Supreme Court justices from a list compiled by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, two special interest groups that support judges with a rigid, corporate ideology. Heritage, a far-right special interest organization, recently released a new proposal to end protections for people with pre-existing conditions and gut Medicaid for seniors, children and people with disabilities. They have also called labor unions – who helped build the middle class – “cartels.” I am disturbed by the administration’s decision to prioritize the input of these far-right special interests, and I believe that focusing on this list excludes from consideration many experienced, respected judges who could gain support from Senators of both parties. This list, from which Brett Kavanaugh was chosen, represents a corrupt bargain with Washington special interests and big corporations, and for that reason, I will not support the Kavanaugh nomination.
I am also deeply troubled by Judge Kavanaugh’s record. He has issued opinions which would restrict voting rights, undermine environmental protections and allow more money in politics. He has frequently dissented from his colleagues in cases involving workers’ rights, discrimination and retaliation, going out of his way to argue that the interests of corporations should trump the interests of individual workers. He has questioned whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. I also have concerns about the Judge’s views on presidential power and his belief that a president should have immunity from civil lawsuits or criminal investigations while in office. The idea that no one is above the law is foundational to our democracy, and our courts should actively guard against the erosion of this foundation.
Judge Kavanaugh has pushed his extreme ideology in multiple cases before the D.C. Circuit, repeatedly choosing corporations over consumers, the wealthy over the worker and special interests over the sick. Our courts are intended to be a place where everyone-not just the powerful-can be heard and can have impartial justice rendered.
Under Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court has become an ever more reliable ally to big corporations, having ruled just in the most recent term against the rights of everyday Americans in cases involving access to the justice system, access to the ballot box and the right of unions to collect fair-share fees from the workers who benefit from union contracts. This Nation deserves a Supreme Court Justice who will be guided by the principle of equal justice under the law for all Americans, yet Judge Kavanaugh represents more of the same anti-consumer and anti-worker ideology that has hurt Pennsylvania’s hard-working families.
As a United States Senator, I take very seriously my constitutional duty to adviseand consent, and carefully review each judicial nominee’s qualifications before his or her nomination comes before the full Senate for consideration. I believe that using judicial nominations as political leverage undermines the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and I am determined not to obstruct the judicial nominations process to score political points. However, I will not rubber-stamp any judicial nominee who comes before the Senate for a vote, particularly one that springs from a corrupt bargain with special interest groups. The judiciary is the most important independent check on Congress and the Executive Branch, and it is my duty to ensure that our judicial nominees-who are appointed for lifetime terms-are truly independent and committed to equal justice under the law.
I have been working diligently with Senator Toomey, the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward on nominees for vacancies in Pennsylvania. I am pleased that the White House has nominated Susan Paradise Baxter, Marilyn Jean Horan, Peter Phipps and Nick Ranjan to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, as well as Chad Kenney, Joshua Wolson and John Milton Younge to the Eastern District Court. These seats have been vacant for far too long, and I believe each of these nominees has the experience needed to faithfully serve the people of Pennsylvania. Since Senator Toomey joined the Senate in 2011, we have worked together, in a bipartisan fashion, to fill vacancies on the federal bench in Pennsylvania. Together we have vetted, recommended and confirmed 14 federal District Court Judges for Pennsylvania. Only three states – California, New York, and Texas – have had more district court judges confirmed to their federal benches during this time.
Considering individuals for lifetime appointments to the federal bench is not a duty to be taken lightly. As the Senate continues to vote on judicial nominations, please be assured that I will continue to individually assess each and every judicial nominee who comes before the Senate on his or her background, temperament and judicial philosophy to ensure that those administering our justice system will be fair, independent and worthy of the public’s trust.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.
For more information on this or any other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, http://casey.senate.gov. I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.
United States Senator