Brett Kavanaugh's Record On Climate Has Environmental Lawyers Worried

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Now that President Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, attention turns to the next important stage. That stage is Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, the process that will see the nominee vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, before the full chamber of senators votes on whether he should sit on the court. Among the issue that is certain to receive attention during those the hearings is Brett Kavanaugh's stance on environmental laws.

How easy it to tell that Kavanaugh will be pressed on that stance?

Just check the pages of Reuters, where the news service promptly published a report about Kavanuagh's opposition to emissions rules, just a few hours after President Trump formally revealed the nominee.

Then there's another report from BuzzFeed News, also published shortly after after Kavanaugh was nominated on Monday night, July 9, which highlighted the concerns of environmental lawyers.

"He is pretty consistently anti-environment on every front. I call him Lord Voldemort," Professor Bill Snape, who teaches law at American University, told Buzzfeed News.

Put the Harry Potter allusions aside, and you can also check out the Twitter feed of New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

"Kavanaugh has a long track record of working to undermine the [Environmental Protection Agency] & laws that protect our environment from big polluters," Booker tweeted on Monday night.

Sen. Booker is one of a handful of Congress members who, alongside the likes of California's Kamala Harris and Connecticut's Chris Murphy, is considered a potential candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. One can easily argue that it'd behoove him to pump up the volume in highlighting liberal criticisms of Judge Kavanaugh.

In fact, pumping up the volume is exactly what Sen. Murphy said Democrats should do, as far back as the day Justice Kennedy announced his retirement.

"My sense is that there’s not much actual power in the minority to stop this, but if he puts up a radical, anti-choice, anti-collective bargaining, anti-worker nominee, we’re going to have to use whatever mechanism we have to up the volume level," Sen. Murphy told Politico in June.

This focus on Brett Kavanaugh's record on environmental laws is not to say whether the record is right or wrong — others will have plenty of time to debate that. It's to point out what seems pretty obvious: Kavanaugh's stance on environmental rules is one of the subjects that Democrats will raise the alarm on in the near future, alongside others issues like the judge's potential to impact abortion laws.

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It's also worth noting the politics at play, and how they impacted Trump's selection of Kavanaugh. Reuters mentions that Kavanaugh's questioning of environmental rules issued by former President Barack Obama is "in line" with the views of Don McGahn, the White House counsel who led the nomination process.

The selection of Kavanaugh is in line with the tangible actions of the Trump administration overall, which in its first 100 days reversed nearly two dozen environmental rules issued by President Obama.

Kavanaugh's stance is also an indicator of why he's such a highly rated nominee among conservatives: Kavanaugh's record on environmental rules not only shows him challenging them, but challenging a president's authority to make those rules in the first place.

"However much we might sympathize or agree with EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] policy objectives, EPA may act only within the boundaries of its statutory authority," Kavanaugh wrote in one decision.

That's the type of opinion that falls in line with conservatives' mission to curb what they see as the growth of power of the presidency.

"The selection of Judge Kavanaugh shows that the Trump administration is serious about taming the administrative state," Jonathan Adler, a conservative law professor, told Reuters.

In other words, Brett Kavanaugh's stance on environmental rules is one of the more significant reasons why he was nominated, and one of the reasons why he will be so vehemently opposed by Democrats.

That's a recipe for a big fight on Capitol Hill.