Brett Kavanaugh tried to warn us.
Specifically, "us" as in Minnesotans. The man President Donald Trump just nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court is under scrutiny this morning, and anyone interested in civil rights and justice is poring over his past opinions on abortion, racial discrimination, immigration, drugs, guns, gay rights, and the rights of employees vs. their employers. Rightly so.
But remember: The most important judicial, economic, and political issue to Donald Trump is Donald Trump. For that reason, the president's favorite opinion Brett Kavanaugh ever gave voice to came right here in Minnesota.
This was not an off-the-cuff statement. It was a prepared speech Kavanaugh gave in 2008 at the University of Minnesota Law School, which he then expanded upon in a 2012 journal article for the Minnesota Law Review. The opinions he espoused concerned the "separation of powers."
At the time Kavanaugh first offered them, his views were provocative, if a little radical. Today, they're terrifying.
In short: Kavanaugh, who worked in the White House for George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, thinks the job of being president is "difficult enough as it is," and whoever holds it should be "excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship."
Which "burdens," you ask? Jury duty? Mowing the lawn? Pretending you saw the walk-off home run when, in fact, you fell asleep watching The Devil Wears Prada for the fourth time this month?
"In particular, Congress might consider a law exempting a President—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel. Criminal investigations targeted at or revolving around a President are inevitably politicized by both their supporters and critics. As I have written before, 'no Attorney General or special counsel will have the necessary credibility to avoid the inevitable charges that he is politically motivated—whether in favor of the President or against him, depending on the individual leading the investigation and its results.' The indictment and trial of a sitting President, moreover, would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.
Even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation— including preparing for questioning by criminal investigators— are time-consuming and distracting"
Donald Trump, a large boy in ill-fitting suits, thinks he is playing Monopoly. Last night he nominated a 'Get out of Jail Free' card to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh's belief is that we, the public, already have recourse to punish a president who has committed "dastardly" actions: impeachment. This presumes we have a Congress willing to investigate the president. We do not.
Robert Mueller's investigation has led to 20 indictments and a handful of guilty pleas, including from Trump's former campaign manager and his short-lived appointee to be National Security Advisor. Evidently unimpressed with an international conspiracy, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee has called for an investigation into one horny FBI agent. Sorry: former FBI agent.
And the head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has said America is being "hurt" by the Mueller investigation, and publicly called on the FBI and the Justice Department to "finish it the hell up."
Wanna bet on those guys initiating impeachment proceedings for Donald Trump?
If, like Brett Kavanaugh, you think the only check on a president's power is Congres, you should vote. But who are we kidding? You're Minnesotan. You were going to vote anyway.
If, unlike Brett Kavanaugh, you think Robert Mueller's investigation is not "time-consuming and distracting," but essential, then you should do something unMinnesotan, and shout about his frightening theory from the rooftops. (Hint: Aim in the direction of your friends who live in states with centrist Republican senators.)
Back when Kavanaugh first gave his speech about "burdens of ordinary citizens" at the University of Minnesota, America was two weeks from a presidential election pitting Barack Obama against John McCain. When he published his Minnesota Law Review paper, the country was gearing up for an election between Obama and Mitt Romney.
Things are different now. The country's in the hands of a charlatan with no respect for the Constitution, Congress, or judges. If that thought troubles Brett Kavanaugh, don't expect the nominee to start singing a different tune. He owes the biggest moment of his career to that charlatan.
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