Kavanaugh squirms as senator reveals big-money backers of his nomination

Brett Kavanaugh

The right-wing Federalist Society hand-picked Kavanaugh to be Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Kavanaugh pretended not to know anything about that.

Trump’s extremist Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, tried to play dumb at his Wednesday confirmation hearing about the secretive network of wealthy conservative donors who hand-picked him to be on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist.

It’s been widely reported that Trump promised to choose his Supreme Court nominees from a list approved by the Federalist Society, a right-wing legal activist group with a huge influence on the GOP.

But rather than acknowledge this, Kavanaugh told a disbelieving Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that Trump was really the one in charge of the nomination process.

Whitehouse asked Kavanaugh about a comment from White House Counsel Don McGahn that the Federalist Society had effectively been “in-sourced” to the Trump team’s judicial vetting.

But Kavanaugh insisted, “My personal experience of what I know is that President Trump made the decision.”

Under further questioning from Whitehouse, Kavanaugh tried to downplay the larger role that the powerful Federalist Society plays in modern Republican politics.

But Whitehouse was ready with a large chart listing some of the major conservative, pro-corporate donors to the Federalist Society.

He also pointed out a damning statistic: In more than 90 percent of cases where certain right-wing interest groups have gotten involved, both Kavanaugh and the current Republican-appointed Supreme Court majority have handed down rulings favorable to those groups.

The Federalist Society’s ironclad grip on Republican judicial nominees isn’t exactly a Washington, D.C., secret, which makes Kavanaugh awkward attempt to play dumb about it all the more puzzling.

It’s well known that the society’s president, Leonard Leo, virtually runs the Republican Party’s judicial review process, and that he picks and chooses which pro-business conservative judges might be considered for the Supreme Court.

“Since the 1990s, [Leo] has been one of the most important inside players in the conservative legal movement and the man to see for those who aspire to sit on the nation’s highest courts,” the Los Angeles Times recently reported.

It’s simply not possible to be a Republican-appointed judge today and hope to become a Supreme Court nominee without the blessing of the Federalist Society.

During his scathing opening statement Tuesday, Whitehouse meticulously detailed the role of the Federalist Society and its secretive donors in shaping today’s Supreme Court, whose loyalties increasingly lie first and foremost with corporate America.

Large corporations will fund groups like the Federalist Society, then pay for multimillion-dollar dark-money advertising campaigns to help ensure GOP judicial nominees get confirmed, and then benefit from the endless pro-business court rulings.

“No wonder the American people feel the game is rigged,” Whitehouse said.

Whitehouse noted that the five-vote Republican-appointed majority, which Whitehouse calls the “Roberts Five” after Chief Justice John Roberts, consistently votes as a bloc in order to advance the power of private corporations.

Whitehouse pointed to 79 cases in which the “Roberts Five” conservative justices voted in unison against the more liberal judges. In 92 percent of those decisions, they helped advance Republican or corporate-supported interests.

Those decisions helped make it easier for big businesses to pollute, bust unions, and fund political campaigns almost without limit.

Kavanaugh wants to pretend he is just an impartial judge who follows precedent without bias. But in reality, his extreme record made him the perfect candidate to be tapped by the Federalist Society to join its right-wing, pro-corporate team.

Published with permission of The American Independent.