By MARK GRUENBERG
PAI Staff Writer
And the Labor Tribune
Washington – Amid protests in the streets nationwide and hundreds of arrests at the U.S. Capitol alone, the GOP-run U.S. Senate put Trump-named federal appellate judge Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 6, cementing its right-wing majority. As people continued anti-Kavanaugh chants outside, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy swore Kavanaugh in to the court’s ninth seat – the one Kennedy had vacated.
The AFL-CIO strongly opposed Kavanaugh, citing his anti-worker rulings. The National Domestic Workers Alliance, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and other organizations organized marches in 28 states. Nothing moved senators.
The vote was initially 50-49, with pro-Kavanaugh Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) absent for his daughter’s wedding in Montana. But as a courtesy to Daines, the sole anti-Kavanaugh Republican, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, changed her vote to “present,” restoring the bare two-vote margin the GOP needed.
The key votes came from West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who abandoned the rest of the party to vote for Kavanaugh, and the other pro-choice female Republican – besides Murkowski – Maine’s Susan Collins. Manchin faces re-election this fall in a state Trump won overwhelmingly.
Collins said Kavanaugh assured her, repeatedly, in a private meeting, that “a long-established precedent” – reproductive rights – “is not something to be trimmed, narrowed, discarded or overlooked.” She also stated Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s disclosure of Kavanaugh’s sexual assault on her when both were teenagers, along with similar allegations later, was uncorroborated.
OUTRAGE AND ARRESTS
The vote cementing Kavanaugh’s appointment to the right-wing majority Supreme Court majority produced outrage on the streets, arrests on the U.S. Capitol Plaza, derision from the spectators in the U.S. Senate galleries and vows of political retribution this November and beyond.
Progressive groups, including the AFL-CIO, promptly jumped to e-mail, blasting Kavanaugh’s confirmation and citing the Senate’s decision as another reason to vote right-wing lawmakers out. Some groups, though not the AFL-CIO, asked for donations as well.
‘A RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST’
“Even the most cursory review of Kavanaugh’s judicial record reveals a right-wing extremist dedicated to advancing the demands of a few wealthy CEOs at the expense of working families,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “His hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee further confirmed that fealty to corporate interests — and demonstrated he lacks anything close to the temperament or character that this position demands.
“The Senate willfully shirked its most fundamental responsibility,” Trumka said. “Instead of giving a voice to hardworking families,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “and his colleagues have obediently handed over the Supreme Court to corporate elites.”
Kavanaugh is “unfit to serve in a lifetime position” on the court, Communications Workers Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens said. He’s “unqualified to serve as a Supreme Court Justice with his track record of being in the pocket of corporate special interests and his total disregard for workers, consumers, women, and fundamental civil rights.”
‘WE WILL REMEMBER’
Mary Kay Henry, president of the two-million-member Service Employees International Union, who spoke at a rally outside the Supreme Court during the Senate hearings, responded with a tweetstorm to his confirmation:
“Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court represents a historic low for the nation. Working people, our healthcare, our right to join together in unions and our ability to vote unimpeded are all at risk.
“SEIU members are outraged that this man (#BrettKavanaugh) who repeatedly demonstrated a lack of judicial temperament, an inability to tell the truth and has multiple, credible sexual assault allegations against him, will be deciding our rights for the next several decades.
“We applaud the senators who stood up and supported working people by opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Those senators listened to their constituents and showed they care about our right to have a voice in a union and access to affordable healthcare.
“Every time Brett Kavanaugh authors or agrees with an opinion that puts billionaires and corporations ahead of working people, we will remember the men and women who put him on the Court.
“The disgraceful behavior of the Trump administration and the senators who voted for confirmation will fuel our efforts on November 6, in 2020 and beyond.”