Duran: Much at Stake for Colorado with Kavanaugh Nod
This June, Majority Leader KC Becker, Senate Minority Leader Leroy Garcia and I urged U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to postpone a Senate vote on President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court until January 2019, after the November elections. Given the enormity of the issues at stake and the need to carefully vet the nominee to the nation’s highest court, it is undeniably the right thing to do.
The proximity-to-elections rationale was used by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to postpone a 2016 vote on Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to succeed the late Antonin Scalia on the court. Obama’s nomination took place in March 2016; Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh occurred this July, only four months before the 2018 midterm elections.
Given the timing, arguments from Republicans in 2016 that voters deserved to have a say in the future of the Supreme Court are either equally valid today or they were never valid at all. Our letter quoted Gardner as saying in 2016, “Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high.” Gardner must have a short memory, because he endorsed Kavanaugh promptly after his nomination, despite it being much closer to the elections now than it was when the Republicans began their blockade in 2016. The hypocrisy is glaring.
But the real crux of the issue is that Americans don’t have enough information yet about this nominee, and it is critical that we take the time to get this right. The public still doesn’t possess all the relevant information and documents regarding Kavanaugh’s record as staff secretary for President George W. Bush, a period in Kavanaugh’s career that he has said was “formative” and “most instructive” to who he is as a judge. When Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the court, Republicans shouted from the rooftops that the release and review of her full record as a White House staffer was crucial — but now they’re trying to ram this nomination through without releasing critical background information. Coloradans are left with the question: What are they hiding?
There is too much at stake to let Trump’s new nominee breeze through the confirmation process. This decision will impact the rights of Coloradans and the direction of our country for generations and it is absolutely critical that this seat be filled by an individual who reflects the values of our country. Kavanaugh has shown on a range of issues that he is neither.
One of the most publicized issues at risk — in large part because Trump and his allies have been explicit in their intentions — is a woman’s right to choose. During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to nominate pro-life justices and that Roe v. Wade would be overturned “automatically”; he also stated that he supports “some form of punishment on abortion.” So let’s be clear: A vote for Kavanaugh is a vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, criminalize abortion and erode fundamental freedoms.
Basic health care protections are also at stake. Despite support from a majority of Americans for protections in the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing conditions, Trump’s Justice Department supports a lawsuit that would overturn that and other vital provisions. If this case goes all the way to the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh could be a deciding vote in a ruling that could strip health care away from the nearly 2.4 million Coloradans living with a pre-existing condition, including almost 300,000 children. These protections can mean life or death, and we must defend them.
And then there is the pressing issue of how Kavanaugh would treat any legal matter pertaining to the president’s conduct during the 2016 election. Republicans are openly avoiding the fact that the president is the subject of an ongoing investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia, the same foreign adversary who tried to attack our election system here in Colorado. They definitely don’t want you to know that Kavanaugh is on record stating that a sitting president should not be able to be criminally indicted. Kavanaugh would, by no means, serve as a check on the executive branch.
The future of consumer rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights and free and fair elections — indeed, the future of our great country — all hangs in the balance with this Supreme Court nominee. Coloradans deserve a Supreme Court justice who will uphold the law while protecting the fundamental rights and liberties of the people.
Kavanaugh is not that justice.
Crisanta Duran is the Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives and represents House District 5 in Denver.