Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would cement the court’s big-business, anti-worker majority for years to come, squarely positioning all three branches of government against the rights and financial security of working people. His track record on the federal bench – including a 2016 ruling against an IBEW local – proves it.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has consistently ruled against workers as a federal appeals court judge.
“Judge Kavanaugh has run roughshod over workers his entire career,” International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. “A seat on the Supreme Court would give him the ultimate power to rule against unions, against job safety, against affordable health care for people with pre-existing conditions – in short, against justice, fairness and decency whenever and wherever they conflict with the interests of the rich and powerful.”
President Trump announced Kavanaugh’s nomination Monday night to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote in most of its 5-4 decisions.
Those include the devastating Janus v. AFSCME decision last month, which allowed public workers to stop paying the fees that make it possible for unions to negotiate contracts, handle grievances and otherwise fight for all members of a bargaining unit.
Kavanaugh clerked for Kennedy in the early 1990s and later served in George W. Bush’s White House. He was appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.
His history on the federal bench is so solidly weighted in favor of corporate interests and deregulation that a leaked document shows the Trump administration urging industry lobbyists to pressure senators to confirm him.
The White House boasts to the business community in the memo that, “Kavanaugh has overruled federal regulators 75 times on cases involving clean air, consumer protections, net neutrality and other issues,” Politico reported.
A list of his anti-labor decisions and dissents compiled by the AFL-CIO includes a 2015 opinion involving the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas: “Kavanaugh reversed and remanded a National Labor Relations Board decision that the hotel engaged in unfair labor practices when it requested police officers to issue criminal citations to union demonstrators who were legally protesting.”
In 2016, Kavanaugh went a step further – this time against IBEW members – overturning an NLRB decision that allowed members of Springfield, Mass., Local 2324 to display signs in their personal vehicles calling for a fair contract from their employer, Verizon Communications. He ruled that the simple display of “Verizon, Honor Our Existing Contract” signs in cars parked on company property constituted an illegal picket, in violation of the employees’ contract.
Kavanaugh also argued in favor of allowing the Secretary of Defense to abolish collective bargaining rights, dissented from a majority opinion upholding a safety citation against SeaWorld after the death of a trainer and, in 2016, declared the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional, an attempt to put corporate foxes in charge of working families’ financial henhouse.
Though that decision was overturned, the Trump administration has effectively dissolved the agency, a watchdog established after the Great Recession to protect Americans from unscrupulous banking and investment practices.
The handler assigned by the White House to move Kavanaugh through the Senate confirmation process is former Republican Sen. John Kyl, a powerful lobbyist for the pharmaceuticals industry until last year.
Kyl’s hiring signals the administration’s ongoing push to destroy Obamacare, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank said: “Why would the White House put the nomination battle in the hands of a man who famously mocked the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health insurance cover maternal health by saying ‘I don’t need maternity care’ — and who as recently as last year was a lobbyist for those fighting to keep drug prices high? Now it makes sense.”
For workers and their unions, the Janus ruling and Kavanaugh’s nomination are a one-two punch.
“Five Republican justices struck a blow against unions,” UC Berkeley law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote in Tuesday’s Sacramento Bee. “They did so in a way that disrupts tens of thousands of contracts. They increased the vulnerability of government employees, many of whom will see a decrease in wages and working conditions as a result of this decision in the years ahead. Whether you agree or disagree with the court, it must be called judicial activism.”
It's also one more reason why November’s midterm elections are so critical, Stephenson said.
“Restoring a pro-worker majority in both house of Congress has never been more urgent,” he said. “Right now, all we can do – and must do – to fight Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is call our senators, and call and call again, to make the case that a Supreme Court majority cemented against working Americans isn’t good for anyone.
“We know that winning this one is a longshot. But in November we have the chance to shift the balance of power. Our votes can ensure that our voice is heard in the next confirmation hearing, and all the other coming fights in Congress and statehouses over workers’ rights, health care, retirement security, tax fairness and the other issues that affect our lives.”