Government

GOP Praises Supreme Court Pick, Dems Have Concerns

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Republican calls for the U.S. Senate to swiftly confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court were matched Monday night by equally fervent demands by Democrats and allies expressing concerns over his record on issues such as abortion and the rights of consumers.

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman say they anticipate a thorough evaluation process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, whom Trump named last night to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Portman, R-Ohio, said Kavanaugh has an impressive background and is “highly regarded as a fair-minded and independent judge,” and he looks forward to considering his nomination.

“The job of a Supreme Court justice is to fairly and impartially apply the law and to protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, not to advance public policy goals by legislating from the bench,” Portman said. “I look forward to meeting with him in the coming weeks as he goes through a fair and thorough evaluation process.”

Brown, D-Ohio, said he’s already “very troubled” by several recent decisions by the high court, and has “serious concerns about some of Kavanaugh’s rulings against women’s rights and consumers’ rights.

“I plan to review Judge Kavanaugh’s record thoroughly and ask him tough questions face-to-face before I make my decision,” he said. “I will not support any justice who would take rights away from Ohioans.”

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, warned that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would have a “profoundly negative effect on the lives of working people.” In an email, he pledged to travel to states around the country to oppose the nomination and urged supporters to sign an online petition.

“Brett Kavanaugh’s record has made it clear he will use his position on the court to protect corporations at the expense of workers, to allow corporations and the wealthy to buy elections and to undermine voting rights. Further, given the fact that Donald Trump stated repeatedly during the campaign that any nominee of his would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, I have no doubt that is exactly what Brett Kavanaugh will do,” Sanders said.

“Simply put, nothing is more important now than doing everything in our power to stop this nomination,” he added.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives also weighed in on Trump’s pick via emailed statements.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, urged the Senate to “to act quickly to consider and approve” Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“America needs a qualified Supreme Court justice who will be a strong defender of the Constitution — and someone who will stay strong when it comes to upholding America’s rule of law,” he said. “The Supreme Court is no place for justices who want to rewrite the Constitution to bend to their own political or ideological whims. I believe Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who currently serves on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, fits this profile.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should follow the precedent he set two years earlier and “forgo any vote on a replacement until after the American people have had their voices heard” in this year’s midterm elections. McConnell, R-Ky., refused to take up then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, during the 2016 presidential election year.

“Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination has reinforced what we already knew: President Trump wants a Supreme Court willing to fight for corporations’ rights as a ‘person’, but not for the rights of workers to collectively bargain and earn a living wage,” Ryan said.

“He wants a court that will fight to uphold Citizens United and allow unlimited money in our political system, but not for a loving same-sex couple to join together in marriage,” he continued. “And especially so this time, he wants a court that will toss aside established precedent and take away a woman’s right to her own health-care and reproductive decisions.”

The nomination was applauded by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-3 Pa. Kavanaugh’s “impressive background and impeccable credentials speak volumes about not only his powerful intellectual abilities but also his solid character,” he said. Kelly called on the Senate to “do the right thing” and grant Kavanaugh the support he deserves.

“President Trump has once again seized the historical opportunity to nominate a brilliant defender of our Constitution to our nation’s highest court,” Kelly said. “In his own words, Judge Kavanaugh ‘reveres’ our Constitution and is a faithful originalist when it comes to interpreting its text as written, not as he or anyone else wishes it would be. Both his mind and his voice will enrich the Supreme Court and help the institution carry out its rightful role in defending the rule of law and upholding the God-given, constitutionally-protected rights of every American citizen.”

Other elected officials and political leaders shared their views of the nomination in emailed statements.

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, warned that by picking Kavanaugh, who he said has expressed “disturbing views of presidential power,” Trump is attempting to turn the high court into “a rubber stamp for right-wing Republican ideology.”

A vote for Kavanaugh “would be a vote to rip health care from American families and deny women their constitutional right to make their own health-care decisions,” he said. He would threaten women’s rights, workers’ rights, civil rights and voting rights for generations to come, even as wealthy corporations and polluters gained “yet another powerful protector,” he said.

“Our Supreme Court must always protect people’s constitutional rights and serve as a check on the powers of the executive branch,” he said. “Kavanaugh is unacceptable, and any senator who cares about the rights and dignity of the American people should oppose his confirmation.”

Jane Timken, chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, praised the nomination. She called on Brown to “learn from his previous mistake of obstructing Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation and respect the will” of voters in Ohio.

“By nominating another highly qualified and distinguished judge to serve on the Supreme Court, President Trump is ensuring that the constitutional rights of all Americans will be protected for generations to come. Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record is proof positive that as our next Justice, he will defend the Constitution and faithfully apply the laws as written,” Timken said.

Pictured: President Donald Trump addresses those gathered at Monday night’s announcement as Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his family look on.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.