Judiciary

Kavanaugh's First-Year Report Card

After the conclusion of his first term on the Court, how has the new justice performed?

Political Editors · Jul. 2, 2019

Justice Brett Kavanaugh was the victim of a Democrats’ horrible, mean-spirited, and personal attacks during his confirmation hearings last fall. But some on the Right still feared he would not be a conservative stalwart on the Supreme Court. After the conclusion of his first term on the Court, how has he done?

Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network, evaluated his term and found that he rose to the occasion. “Kavanaugh has been a solid member of a new four-justice conservative bloc that is often (though unfortunately not always) joined by [Chief Justice John Roberts] on key decisions advancing religious liberty, reestablishing federalism and separation of powers principles, and protecting the right to private property.” Indeed, it is not Kavanaugh who has disappointed conservatives but Roberts.

While citing numerous examples throughout the year, she adds, “Kavanaugh was more likely to disagree with Roberts on merits decisions than with the trio of [Clarence] Thomas, [Samuel] Alito, and [Neil] Gorsuch, with whom he broke in only four cases that received relatively little public attention.” On the cases that mattered from a constitutional perspective, Kavanaugh was a reliable originalist. But also, according to the Washington Examiner’s Ryan Everson, “Kavanaugh was in the majority 86% of the time, more than any other justice.” He will likely spend many more years — maybe decades — on the Court. Here’s hoping he continues to uphold his oath to support and defend the Constitution.

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