Brett Kavanaugh: Everything you need to know about the nominee

President George W. Bush Attends Swearing-In Ceremony for Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, June 1, 2006, in the Rose Garden.

President George W. Bush Attends Swearing-In Ceremony for Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, June 1, 2006, in the Rose Garden.

Matt Tibesar

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is nearing his confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate, but members of the Iowa State community have mixed reactions on what his potential position on the high court could mean.

Kavanaugh, a circuit judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was nominated on July 9. Since then, some have called into question whether he would be a partisan justice.

“I think that he has shown that he is strictly ideological and that he would behave in a way that he would attempt to degrade rights people have that are enshrined in the constitution and that have been determined by the precedent of the court,” said Ashton Ayers, policy director for the Iowa State Democrats.

Dirk Deam, senior lecturer for the political science department, held concerns the Senate was using this partisanship as a reason to pick Kavanaugh rather than looking at judges based on their experience.

“I’d like to see older judges, I’d like to see people who’ve been judges … decided cases that go both ways or either way, sometimes he sides with plaintiffs, sometimes he sides with defendants. There is no discernible ideological taint, but that is not this nominee.”

Deam said the Senate should not consider a judge based on how they would vote on a particular case but instead by looking at their long standing qualifications and overall experience.

Others like Jacob Minock, president of the Iowa State College Republicans, have said Kavanaugh’s record demonstrates he is qualified and disproves any claims of partisan bias.

“I believe Kavanaugh is a tremendously qualified individual with a record to back it up,” Minock said. “His time on the U.S. Court of Appeals where he was nominated by [former-President George W. Bush] and confirmed with bipartisan support has been stellar.”

Minock cited the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Federalist Society who have given Kavanaugh high-rated reviews. The ABA which Minock said has been accused of having a liberal bias, gave Kavanaugh their highest possible rating.

“I personally do not believe he is a partisan judge, and I do not like partisan judges,” Minock said. “I want a fair judge who holds true to the constitution as that is the ultimate law of the land.”

Kavanaugh’s conservative predispositions have also caused some to worry he could overturn long standing supreme court precedents and rulings.

For example, Ayers said Kavanaugh could and would vote against issues like the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade in which governments were prohibited from restricting abortion.

“[Kavanaugh] would overturn that on an ideological basis,” Ayers said. “Which I think is unfit for someone to be on our highest court.”

Minock, on the other hand, said he believes Kavanaugh would overturn cases based on constitutional interpretation not personal beliefs.

“If a party policy is against the constitution I certainly do not want to see it enacted and wish to see it struck down as fast as possible,” Minock said.

Deam said while Kavanaugh could be part of a Supreme Court team which overturns Roe v. Wade, it would be unlikely as Roe v. Wade was decided using the right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and would be hard to overturn without repealing other rights to privacy.

The issue Deam said should have a greater focus is Kavanaugh’s previous opinions on presidential immunity, which could play a role in the Trump presidency as Robert Mueller conducts his investigation on possible Russian collusion with the 2016 Trump campaign.

This legal battle may end up being litigated in the Supreme Court, which might have Kavanaugh on its bench.

“He has an apparent conflict of interest with respect to the President,” Deam said. “He has written and spoken about his position on the president’s immunity from civil actions and criminal prosecution, and that should disqualify him from participating on those cases, but there is no evidence that he is not going to participate on those cases.”

This concern stems, in part, from an article written by Kavanaugh in 2009 and published in the Minnesota Law review. Kavanaugh argued the president should have civil suits and criminal prosecutions deferred while they are in office.

At the time Kavanaugh argued the president has more important things to focus on and would do a worse job if he is focused on legal disputes, according to Kavanaugh’s article. Kavanaugh expressed the president is not always above the law and can be impeached if they have done something “dastardly.”

Kavanaugh also faces a personal controversy because of sexual assault allegations which were released by Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while the two of them were in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the accusations.

The allegations, which Minock and others have said should be investigated, could bring Kavanaugh’s confirmation into question and potentially prevent him from being confirmed.

“The case must be examined for contemporaneous corroboration and any contradictions should be examined,” Minock said. “By all means if the allegations are true I certainly do not want Kavanaugh confirmed.”

Senate Democrats have called for Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote to be delayed until an investigation and hearings have taken place over the investigation, which Senate Republicans are largely agreeing to.

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced Monday the committee would hold a hearing about the allegations, but expressed his disappointment in how the information was handled.

“As I said earlier, anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has done deserves to be heard,” Grassley said in a statement. “My staff has reached out to Dr. Ford to hear her account, and they held a follow-up call with Judge Kavanaugh this afternoon. Unfortunately, committee Democrats have refused to join us in this effort. However, to provide ample transparency, we will hold a public hearing Monday to give these recent allegations a full airing.”

Grassley was concerned that Feinstein’s office held on to the allegation for six weeks and now has refused to set up follow up calls between Kavanaugh and Ford.

“Unfortunately, committee Republicans have only known this person’s identity from news reports for less than 24 hours and known about her allegations for less than a week,” Grassley said in the statement. “Senator Feinstein, on the other hand, has had this information for many weeks and deprived her colleagues of the information necessary to do our jobs.”

A statement released by Ford’s lawyers on Tuesday said Ford will not testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday as they want an FBI investigation into her allegations before she speaks to the committee.

A spokesperson for the FBI said her allegations do not involve a potential federal crime so they will not conduct an investigation without further information or evidence.