US Supreme Court takes hard right turn as Ka­vanaugh is sworn in

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

The US Supreme Court is sup­posed to be a sa­cred in­sti­tu­tion im­per­vi­ous to par­ti­san pol­i­tics but the newly con­firmed jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh gives the court its staunch­est con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity in decades.

As he was sworn in Mon­day night at the White House, af­ter an ugly, con­tentious Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion process in which he bat­tled al­le­ga­tions of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing women, Ka­vanaugh, 53, vowed to serve the coun­try – not one po­lit­i­cal party or an­other.

“The Supreme Court is an in­sti­tu­tion of law. It is not a par­ti­san or po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tion,” said Ka­vanaugh, who was to take up his seat on the nine-mem­ber bench on Tues­day.

But Steven Sch­winn, a pro­fes­sor at the John Mar­shall Law School in Chicago, in­sisted the court has al­ways been both a ju­di­cial in­sti­tu­tion and a po­lit­i­cal one.

“This didn’t start with Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion, and it won’t end here,” he told AFP.

Un­der the US con­sti­tu­tion, it is the pres­i­dent who nom­i­nates peo­ple to the court but it is up to the Se­nate to con­firm or re­ject them. Judges are named for life, so they can leave their mark for a long time af­ter they first join the court.

Over time, it has wa­vered from right to left. In the early 19th cen­tury it de­fended slav­ery. In the 1960s, it was key in end­ing racial seg­re­ga­tion.

But now “the court has not been this con­ser­va­tive since back to the 30’s” when it op­posed the New Deal that for­mer pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt pushed to lift the coun­try out of the Great De­pres­sion, said Carl To­bias, a pro­fes­sor of law at the Univer­sity of Rich­mond.

With the ar­rival of Ka­vanaugh the court com­prises four lib­er­als ap­pointed by Demo­cratic pres­i­dents and five con­ser­va­tives picked by Repub­li­cans.

It is not the first time there is a Repub­li­can­picked ma­jor­ity, but un­til now some of these held swing votes – they voted right or left, depend­ing on the is­sue at stake.

Such was the case with jus­tice An­thony Kennedy, whose re­tire­ment paved the way for Ka­vanaugh to re­place him. Kennedy was right-lean­ing on vot­ing rights is­sues but a pro­gres­sive on same sex mar­riage and ac­cess to abor­tion.

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