The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to take the place of Justice Anthony Kennedy was the subject of a forum at the Miller Center yesterday. Supreme Court expert Barbara Perry talked about the makeup of the new court with UVA law professors Saikrishna Prakash and Micah Schwartzman. WMRA’s Marguerite Gallorini reports.
Justice Kennedy was seen as a swing vote – or deciding vote – especially on social issues, as UVa Law professor Micah Schwartzman explains.
MICAH SCHWARTZMAN: He was a conservative centrist: on a range of cases, he really was the deciding vote. You might have expected him to side with a conservative majority to reject abortion rights in Roe v. Wade, but he didn't do that; you might have expected that he would side with a conservative block too to eliminate affirmative action, but he didn't quite do that. Justice Kennedy voted with the liberals on the Court to narrow the scope of those rights but not to reverse them outright. The question will be: What happens to those rights after he is gone?
The balance of the Court will shift with a new member. So could that affect what we call "settled" laws?
SAIKRISHNA PRAKASH: The idea that everything that we have now will be with us forever, I think, is not borne out by any experience.
This is Saikrishna Prakash, another UVa Law professor and Miller Center senior fellow.
PRAKASH: Micah mentioned one case last term: the controversial case of union fees, where they overturned a case involving the First Amendment. That's going to happen on both the Left and the Right. I think what people are most concerned about is Roe v. Wade, and they have reason to be concerned.