President Trump Picks Brett Kavanaugh for U.S. Supreme Court

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump said he would nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, a choice that could create the most conservative court in generations and threaten landmark rulings including the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights decision.

If confirmed by the Senate, Kavanaugh would fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote who sometimes sided with the court’s liberals in key cases. Trump wants to leave an enduring mark on the court, giving it a solid five-justice conservative majority for the foreseeable future.

“I do not ask about a nominee’s personal opinions,” Trump said Monday night. “What matters is not a judge’s political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require.”

Kavanaugh 53, is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit with a history in politics. Before he was nominated to the D.C. circuit by George W. Bush, he was the former president’s staff secretary and worked for Bush during the 2000 Florida vote recount. He also played a lead role in drafting Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s 1998 report on Bill Clinton. He is a Yale Law School graduate.

Trump made his decision on Sunday, according to White House officials, adding the determining factor was that Kavanaugh was the kind of judge read by other judges, and had a solid grounding in the legal philosophy known as strict constructionism.

On Friday, the president asked all four finalists for the Supreme Court seat, Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman — to write speeches for Monday night’s announcement, submit names of people they’d like to have attend the announcement, and to share background information, according to the White House officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Two of the officials said the president would view Coney Barrett as a top contender if he has the opportunity to make a third Supreme Court nomination. They added that Trump repeatedly praised Hardiman, while Kethledge was ruled out because of rulings that immigration hardliners disliked.

Sunday Night Call

The president called Kavanaugh on Sunday night to tell him that he had been chosen. On Monday, he told Kennedy, who was traveling in Austria, one of the officials said.

On the appeals court, Kavanaugh has voted to strike down environmental regulations and said he would have overturned internet regulations issued while Barack Obama was president. He dissented from a ruling that let an undocumented immigrant teenager get an abortion while in federal custody.

Trump said that Kavanaugh has “impeccable credentials” and is “universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time.”

Kavanaugh, a former Kennedy clerk, said that he was “deeply honored” to replace the retiring justice.

“No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination,” Kavanaugh said of Trump.

Read More: Court Pick Kavanaugh Is Washington Insider, Regulation Skeptic

In addition to abortion, the court could shift to the right on the death penalty, racial discrimination, environmental law and gay rights, all areas where Kennedy at least sometimes joined the court’s liberal wing. Chief Justice John Roberts may now become the swing vote.

White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short said he expects Kavanaugh to be in place by Oct. 1, when the court’s next term formally opens, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will vote to confirm Kennedy’s successor in the fall. McConnell, who called Kavanaugh a “superb choice,” hasn’t explicitly said whether his goal is to complete a confirmation before the November midterm elections.

“This incredibly qualified nominee deserves a swift confirmation and robust bipartisan support,” Trump said.

Confirmation Battle

Kennedy’s position in the court’s center guarantees a fierce confirmation fight. As soon as he announced his retirement plans in late June, Democrats and liberal groups mobilized, saying another Trump appointee would threaten Roe as well as the 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide and scores of other decisions that have shaped modern America.

“President Trump has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement moments after Trump’s announcement. “His own writings make clear that he would rule against reproductive rights and freedoms, and that he would welcome challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.”

Schumer, of New York, said he would fight the nomination “with everything I have, and I hope a bipartisan majority will do the same.”

Senators Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, all Democrats, said immediately after Trump’s announcement that they would also vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

White House counsel Don McGahn, who oversaw Trump’s justice selection process, tried to contact all the Senate Judiciary Committee members during the process. Only Harris, who is thought to have presidential ambitions, declined to engage, according to one of the White House officials.

Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, so they can approve Trump’s nominee without any Democratic support as long as they don’t lose more than one vote. In confirming Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Republicans eliminated the 60-vote requirement to advance a nomination to the high court.

A key Republican moderate, Susan Collins of Maine, said she will review the pick, but said Kavanaugh has “impressive credentials.”

The White House plans a robust promotional campaign on Kavanaugh’s behalf.

Vice President Mike Pence scheduled interviews Tuesday morning with local television and radio stations in states represented by Democrats that Trump won in 2016, one of the White House officials said. He plans to participate in an outreach call with White House allies, Kavanaugh’s introduction at McConnell’s office, a radio interview with conservative host Rush Limbaugh, lunch with Republican senators and two national television interviews, the official added.

Pence took an active role in the selection process, meeting with Kethledge and Barrett in Indiana on July 3 and with Kavanaugh in Washington on July 4, the official added.

Kavanaugh will begin individual meetings with senators this week, McConnell’s office said. The Judiciary Committee will announce a date for a confirmation hearing after reviewing Kavanaugh’s record.

Overturning Roe

Gorsuch’s nomination became possible because McConnell blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy in 2016. McConnell had said the winner of the presidential election should make the choice.

Trump vowed during the campaign to appoint justices who would vote to overturn Roe, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, and his appointment to replace Kennedy could make that a reality. Recently, he said he wouldn’t ask any potential nominees about Roe during interviews.

Kennedy cast the pivotal vote to uphold Roe in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. The justices who remain on the court include three who have backed broad abortion restrictions and a fourth, Gorsuch, who in all likelihood would.

Senate confirmation of Kavanaugh could create the most conservative court since the justices blocked a number of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in the 1930s. It could also create a lasting majority. Thomas, at 70, is the oldest of the court’s remaining Republican appointees.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

President Trump Issues Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty

The President Issued this Order on May 4, 2017, the National Day of Prayer.
We are very grateful to him for restoring religious freedom for our citizens and to
our Nation.
You can call or email the President to thank him at the contact info below.
Thank the President: 202 456 1111
Email the President Here
——————————————————————————————————————–
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty

EXECUTIVE ORDER

– – – – – – –

PROMOTING FREE SPEECH AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious liberty of persons and organizations in America, and to further compliance with the Constitution and with applicable statutes and Presidential Directives, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.  The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government.  For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom.  Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government.  The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.

Sec. 2.  Respecting Religious and Political Speech.  All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech.  In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury.  As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.

Sec. 3.  Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate.  The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.

Sec. 4.  Religious Liberty Guidance.  In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.

Sec. 5.  Severability.  If any provision of this order, or the application of any provision to any individual or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and the application of its other provisions to any other individuals or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Sec. 6.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

 

THE WHITE HOUSE,
May 4, 2017.

President Trump Signs Executive Order to Reinstate Mexico City Policy

Email the President and thank him for reinstating the Mexico City Policy:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

 

Trump revives funding ban to groups promoting abortion overseas

If there was any doubt about President Donald Trump’s stance on abortion, he settled it Monday by using an executive order to bar U.S. aid to groups that provide or promote the procedure overseas.

The decision to reinstate the Republican policy known as the “Mexico City policy,” or the “global gag rule,” was delivered a day after the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and two days after the Women’s March on Washington and similar events across the country drew crowds to rally for reproductive rights, among other issues. During the presidential campaign, Trump vowed to appoint “pro-life” Supreme Court justices. He said that if the Roe decision is overturned, the question of whether abortion is legal would go back to individual states.

The Mexico City policy has been instituted by every Republican president since Ronald Reagan and rescinded by Democratic presidents. It prohibits NGOs that receive federal funding — including health care providers or organizations — from providing or promoting abortion or from advocating for abortion laws abroad.

The policy was issued by executive order, just as it has been done by past Republican presidents, often within days of taking office. It comes on the heels of a sweeping order Trump signed Friday evening encouraging federal agencies to dismantle large parts of Obamacare.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said Trump’s move puts “ideological politics over women and families’ futures,”adding she would introduce bipartisan legislation to reverse the policy.

Abortion-right s group NARAL immediately issued a statement Monday condemning Trump’s move. “It’s telling that one of Trump’s first executive actions combines two of his favorite things: silencing anyone who disagrees with him and repressing women,” the group said. “With this action, Donald Trump has turned his anti-women rhetoric into policy, and made it more difficult for women and families all over the world to access vital reproductive care. He really is living up to the lowest of expectations.”