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July 10, 2018 1:12 pm

Trump’s Pick of Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Draws Mixed Reactions From US Jewish Groups

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US President Donald Trump introduces his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 9, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Leah Millis.

President Donald Trump’s announcement on Monday of his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the US Supreme Court drew mixed reactions from US Jewish groups.

The Republican Jewish Coalition praised the pick, saying in a tweet:

Former Senator Norm Coleman, now the national director of the RJC, tweeted that Kavanugh “possesses the requisite intellect & integrity that should easily insure his confirmation.”

“Time to put politics aside,” Coleman added.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) offered a more circumspect response.

AJC General Counsel Marc D. Stern stated:

While there is little doubt that Judge Kavanaugh has the technical qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, that by no means alone qualifies the nominee. No less important is the nominee’s openness to arguments that challenge his own views and previously expressed beliefs, a robust commitment to protecting the liberties the Constitution guarantees, and assuring all citizens the equal protection of the laws. Moreover, the Senate should not confirm a nominee who comes to the bench with the intention of radically and systematically rewriting American constitutional law.

The role of the president and the Senate in choosing and approving a new Justice to the nation’s highest court requires adequate time for a full examination to assure that impartiality will govern the judgments rendered by a nominee, and that rigid and unyielding opinions and allegiances, political, economic and religious, are checked at the door of the highest court.

It is imperative that the Supreme Court remains truly an independent branch of our government and does not become merely an extension of partisan politics. The same should be true of the confirmation process. Proper Senate evaluation of Judge Kavanaugh will be critical to assuring that the court steers clear of any ideological tilting, as the justices hear arguments and deliberate on cases affecting longstanding landmark decisions, such as Roe v. Wade.

While AJC has strong beliefs on many issues that come before the Supreme Court — and files amicus briefs in support of those views — it recognizes that the hard cases that come before the Court do not necessarily have only one self-evident, correct answer. Neither liberals or conservatives have an exclusive on constitutional interpretation.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sounded a note of alarm, with ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt saying:

The vacancy left by Justice Kennedy’s retirement is a critical one for the future of civil rights, civil liberties, and our democracy. At a time where hard-fought progress in LGBT rights, voting rights, and women’s rights are threatened, and immigrants and vulnerable communities in our country are under attack, the role of an independent Supreme Court — and one that protects the Constitutional rights of all Americans — is more important than ever.

“We are concerned that Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record does not reflect the demonstrated independence and commitment to fair treatment for all that is necessary to merit a seat on our nation’s highest court. Because he has written and spoken prolifically on many issues of deep concern, we believe his positions merit close scrutiny. These include his demonstrated hostility to reproductive freedom and his past support for greatly expanded and unchecked executive power.

In ADL’s view, the Senate’s advice and consent role in the nomination process is equally important as the president’s responsibility to nominate. We cannot let Justice Kennedy’s retirement jeopardize hard-fought progress in securing our civil rights and civil liberties.

As ADL has done with past Supreme Court nominees, we will highlight for members of the Senate Judiciary Committee key issues on which we will urge them to question the nominee.  Senators should probe Judge Kavanaugh carefully to ensure that he will respect basic principles of equality, independence, church-state separation, and civil rights.  As the Committee reviews the full record, unless they are completely satisfied that Judge Kavanaugh will in fact respect such basic principles as a Justice on the Supreme Court, they should oppose his nomination.

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