Trump’s Supreme Court nom Kavanaugh has a history of opposing EPA

Trump's Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh may fit right into the administration's agenda to roll back environmental regulations.

President Trump has announced that his nominee for the next Supreme Court Justice is Brett Kavanaugh, who critics say would fit right into the administration’s agenda to roll back environmental regulations. As a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Kavanaugh has a history of ruling against regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

California Senator Kamala Harris told PBS NewsHour in an interview with Judy Woodruff why she plans to oppose the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. Senator Harris suggested that Kavanaugh could do a lot of damage by filling the critical “swing vote” seat, a position that will soon be vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Since 1988, Justice Kennedy has maintained a somewhat moderate balance in a sharply divided court, with four dedicated conservative judges on one side and four liberal judges on the other.

“I would categorize this nomination differently, which is that this is one of the most important positions on the United States Supreme Court, because, of course, replacing Kennedy is about the swing vote on the United States Supreme Court,” Senator Harris told PBS.

“So I look at it more as what the significance of this nomination of this particular person for that seat, and on that basis, I am opposed to his nomination. And I am very concerned about what his nomination will mean for future generations on these issues and so many more.”

Senator Harris claims that Kavanaugh does not support people’s fundamental rights, such as same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Judge Kavanaugh has also made his opinion on the role of the EPA very clear, suggesting in many separate rulings that the agency oversteps its boundaries.

Kavanaugh’s written statements have consistently shown a lack of support for the authority of the EPA. In 2012, he wrote that the court felt the EPA was overreaching its power after the agency proposed a federal rule to reduce air pollution in downwind states.

During the debate over President Obama’s Clean Power Plan in 2016, Judge Kavanaugh said that it is not the job of the EPA or the courts to come up with climate change solutions. Kavanaugh did acknowledge that climate change is happening and that humans are contributing, but he argued about the authority of the EPA to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

While some say that appointing Judge Kavanaugh would give the Supreme Court a nudge to the right, others believe his influence would be much more severe.

Robert Percival is a professor of Environmental Law at the University of Maryland.

“It’ll be a very different court in the future,” Professor Percival told the New York Times. “Kennedy at least had an open mind on this issue, but if he’s replaced by Kavanaugh, it will really be hard times for environmental law for the rest of my lifetime.”

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer