Thursday, September 6, 2018

Kavanaugh in leaked email: Roe can be overturned

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, meets with Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at her office, before a private meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
The New York Times has some documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's time as George W. Bush's staff secretary, including an email on whether abortion rights is really settled law. That email, the Times says, is among the "committee confidential" records that Chairman Chuck Grassley has refused to allow be released publicly and prevented Senate Democrats from raising in the hearings. It "was among several an unknown person provided to The New York Times late Wednesday."

In the March 2003 email, Kavanaugh is considering drafting an opinion piece to run under the names of anti-abortion women in support of one of Bush's appeals court nominees, which is just a perfect storm of sexism. There was a line he was debate: "it is widely accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land."

"I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level," Kavanaugh wrote in the email, "since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so."
The Court can always overrule its precedent.

That was not the view Kavanaugh expressed in Wednesday's hearing, where while he was slippery on abortion, as all Republican nominees have been for decades, he called abortion rights "precedent on precedent," defined by both Roe v. Wade and then reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That was a tell right there, because what Casey has actually done is provide for a great deal of leeway for states to put restrictions on abortions. In that answer, Kavanaugh was telling Republicans he's perfectly willing to keep chipping away until abortion is a right in name only, impossible to actually achieve.

That's crystal clear, and this newly released email suggest that Kavanaugh believed in 2003 that it could be wholly overturned. So the question now is whether Sen. Susan Collins will continue to pretend that Kavanaugh would protect abortion rights.

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