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Thursday, July 12, 2018

New scorpion in the Supreme Court?

Por Jade

When this Tuesday, in prime time, Donald Trump revealed the name of his candidate to the vacant post left by Arthur Kennedy in the Federal Supreme Court of the United States, the reactions were very different. The Democrats stirred restlessly in their seats and began sharpening their knives to create a ditch that would not allow Brett Michael Kavanaugh (53, DC's appellate judge) to skip the simple majority of the Senate that separates him from confirmation. On the contrary, the Republicans - except for a small minority - closed ranks with him, so that the conservative majority that controls that "small organism with immense power", which is the Supreme Court, is consolidated.

The reason for the Democrats' alarm is understandable. The judge nominated by Trump has, for that party, disturbing background. He was part of the team of Ken Starr who ran, from his position of independent counselor, the impeachment of Clinton, who arrived by derivation of the Foster cases (suicide of White House lawyer with Clinton), the scandal of the company of White House travel and the questionable intervention of the Clintons (especially Hillary) in the confusing plot that led, simultaneously, to the real estate collapse of a holiday center and the bankruptcy of a savings bank (Whitewater case).

Later, he was part of the group of lawyers who helped Bush legally in his election to the presidency, through the controversial vote around the vote of the state of Florida. Being Bush president, he joined the White House pool of lawyers, and the president himself was the one who nominated him to the office of appellate judge of the District of Columbia. A typical example of the Republican elite of Washington lawyers. Kavanaugh is Catholic. In this way, the Supreme Court is constituted by a majority of five Catholics. It is important to note that Catholic magistrates have been appointed by Protestant presidents. Kennedy, who was the only Catholic president, never named any member of this confession: Byron R. White was a Protestant and Arthur Goldberg was a Jew.

The Catholic majority is not a design sought by the presidents; rather it is the result of a demography in which this religion is the majority minority in the United States. A demography from which people as different as Sonia Sotomayor, a Catholic of Puerto Rican origin, daughter of a nurse and a worker; John Roberts, son of a senior executive; or Clarence Thomas, African-American son of a domestic worker and convert to Catholicism, once appointed magistrate, which does not mean they vote the same way. Another characteristic of Kavanaugh is his relative youth (53 years), which increases the 'youth' of the SC.

It should be emphasized that these 'young people' constitute today a relative 'conservative majority', compared to the old liberal guard. However, this statement must be qualified, since Sotomayor or Kagan is not uncommon to vote with the 'old'. On the other hand, there is a tendency to talk about conservatism in terms of the death penalty, drug control and abortion. In this last matter, it is necessary to undo the misunderstanding of understanding that the progressive erosion of the sentence Roe v. Wade (who established a very broad abortion system) supposes its elimination. What the 'young people' have done - supported by some 'elders' - has been to 'give back' to the states a certain legislative competence on the subject.

But the surprising position of the 'conservatives' in supporting the constitutionality of derision to the flag or in their strong support for civil rights included in the First Amendment as religious freedom or conscientious objection is minimized. It is often said that the SC is composed of "nine scorpions in a bottle". The reality is that although there are juridically fierce confrontations, tolerance and good treatment tend to prevail lately. Especially when Scalia (conservative icon) justified his well-known friendship with the 'progressive' icon (Ruth B. Ginsburg): "If you are not willing to dissent from your colleagues in legal matters and, at the same time, keep friendship, you have to look for another job.” It seems that this is also the positive mood of Brett Michael Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh studied law at Yale University. He was born in Washington to a family of law graduates. He is an only child and studied in a Jesuit school. His mother was a teacher at a public school in the city and also a judge in a county near Washington. His father worked in a commercial association. His two parents attended the event this Monday at the White House. Kavanaugh is passionate about sports and plays basketball coach of his daughters' teams.