Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh pushes the Supreme Court towards defending a far-right corporate state, says Henry A. Giroux the author of American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism.
SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.
On Monday, President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh as his choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is a well-known conservative federal appeals court judge; a former aide to President George W. Bush. He also served as one of the investigators of President Bill Clinton during his impeachment process. As a staunch conservative, Kavanaugh, if confirmed by the Senate, would consolidate the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, moving it significantly to the right. Here is Brett Kavanaugh on his nomination.
BRETT KAVANAUGH: My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent, and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written, and a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history, and tradition, and precedent.
SHARMINI PERIES: Now, looking back, the retiring Justice Kennedy sometimes sided with the liberal justices on key issues such as abortion rights, affirmative action, gay marriage, the death penalty, and reversing unfair housing discrimination. Here is how Bernie Sanders reacted to the announcement of Brett Kavanaugh as Trump’s Supreme Court choice at a rally on Monday night.
BERNIE SANDERS: Are you ready to defend Roe v. Wade? Look, I am not going to kid anybody. This is a tough fight, but it is a fight that we can win. We have the American people on our side. Now we’ve got to go state by state by state to make sure that senators do what their constituents want.
SHARMINI PERIES: Joining me now to analyze the meaning of Trump’s choice for Supreme Court is Henry Giroux. Henry is the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest. His most recent book is “American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism.” Thanks for joining us, Henry.
HENRY GIROUX: Oh, it’s always a pleasure.
SHARMINI PERIES: Henry, let’s start with getting your thoughts on this naming of someone like Brett Kavanaugh, who was proposed to Trump by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society to replace Anthony Kennedy.
HENRY GIROUX: Well, I think the fact that he was both proposed by Trump and vetted by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation tells us almost all of what we really need to know about him. He’s an ultra conservative. I mean, he’s a guy who honestly believes in what we might call an expansive view of presidential power. He argues that, he’s argued that sitting presidents should be immune from civil suits and criminal prosecutions. He’s against worker rights. He’s basically against, certainly he is against abortion rights. And in my estimation he’s basically the culmination of a government that has increasingly under Trump moved so far to the right that it has now combined an almost immune function of corporate power with an attack on civil rights.
I think that this is truly a disaster. I mean, I think that it’s-. And he certainly will be confirmed. I find it hard to believe he won’t be. But I think that what the United States is in for in the next 20 or 30 years is a court that will be so right-wing, and represents such an enormous threat to civil rights, to civil justice, to social justice, to economic equality, that the issue will no longer be whether, you know, we can do something with the Supreme Court. The real issue would be, is to recognize that capitalism and democracy are not the same thing anymore, and that we really need to think about what it means to put a new political party and social formation into place that could really address the real needs of people in ways that matter.
SHARMINI PERIES: Speaking of capitalism, Kavanaugh has a long record of favoring capitalism, business interests, corporate interests. He has said to be a solid opponent of net neutrality, for example. And at the same time, he also has a record of opposing government regulation of all kinds. He’s into deregulation. And one prominent case, he said that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional. So where do you think he will lead the nation through his decisions?
HENRY GIROUX: I think that, you know, if the political state is being replaced by the corporate state, it seems to me that Trump is really found his man. I mean, this is a guy who really believes in some way that the only form of power that matters is the power consolidated, held, and exercised by the financial elite. I mean, this guy is truly an apostle of the worst forms of neoliberalism. And in many ways, you combine that with his support for concentrated political power in the hands of the presidency, and it’s, it seems to me as if Trump has really found his man.
I mean, he wants to criminalize abortion, as we’ve talked about. He wants to basically undo any sense of opposition against corporate power. He wants as much as he can deaden and undermine civil rights. I mean, he’s against net neutrality. I mean, what is it that he’s for that has any relationship at all to the manners of democracy? I mean, he doesn’t even use the word democracy. I mean, he’s a guy who hangs out with dictators. He alienates the leaders of the liberal, of the Western alliances. And now he’s picked a judge who basically is a function of a kind of market logic, a judge who’s been outsourced by basically the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, as outsourcing avenues in order to choose him. Maybe that’s all we really need to know.
SHARMINI PERIES: Henry, while he is a big believer in presidential power, he was involved in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and the investigations that went on with the case involving Monica Lewinsky. What do you make of that?
HENRY GIROUX: I think that just speaks to his own ideological architecture. I mean, I think that basically he’s a far-rightist, and that, you know, he moved with the ideology. I mean, he was, of course was working for Ken Starr. He was a Republican, he was an extremist, and he wanted to see the president, a Democratic president, impeached. So this notion that, you know-. I mean, I think that when it comes to in some way allowing the government to get away with interest that would serve the corporate elite, he’d be fine. To serve a Republican president, I don’t think he’d have any trouble whatsoever. I mean, the point that I’m making is I don’t think that his principles are so static that he can’t allow, he can’t adjust them to particular ideological perceptions. And in this case, the ideological perception was on the side of the right. You know, let’s impeach a Democratic president.
I think in the future, certainly under Trump, his ideological perceptions will change again. And what we’ll see is, in my estimation, a Supreme Court judge who will do everything he can to make sure that Trump is not impeached. And don’t believe for a minute that that wasn’t a question that had to be vetted when, when he was being interrogated by the Federalist Society and by, it would seem to me, the Heritage Foundation. There’s no way that the Russian investigation and its potential consequences could not have come up in that interview. And we can only assume what his answer must have been.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right. So, fully aware of that, Henry, it seems that the Senate Democrats face a difficult hurdle in blocking Kavanaugh, knowing that Trump nominated him in order to protect his own presidency. Now, the Democrats are stuck here, in terms of being able to challenge this nomination. What strategies could they engage in order to resist this?
HENRY GIROUX: Well, I think that [Trump] is going to put an enormous amount of pressure on those six or seven Democrats in the past that voted for Trump nominees. I mean, six for Haspel, and seven for, was it Pompeo? Pompeo. Some of these Democrats basically are, Senators are in red states. And the question is not simply are the Republicans, the Republican senators who support abortion rights not going to vote for this candidate. The real issue to me is whether these Democrats are going to buckle in the face of that nomination.
I don’t have a lot of faith in Schumer being able to put that much pressure on them. I think that we might be surprised at the number of Democrats who actually vote for him.
SHARMINI PERIES: Yeah, as we were in the case involving Gorsuch’s appointment. All right, Henry, I thank you so much for joining us for now, but this is going to be an ongoing discussion for the next few months. I thank you so much for joining us.
HENRY GIROUX: It’s always a pleasure. Thank you for having me on.
SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.