Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) spoke against the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court Friday, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee Kavanaugh’s statement that “in the eyes of government we are just one race” is damning.
Richmond painted Kavanaugh’s nomination as part of an injection of “bigots” into the federal judiciary, although he stopped short of describing Kavanaugh himself as a bigot. “President Trump has seized on this opportunity to pack the court by selecting judicial nominees who lack pragmatism and are often strikingly unqualified and proven intolerant bigots,” he said. “We’re in the midst of a fundamental shift towards nominees that embrace ideology at the fringes of mainstream legal thought.”
Richmond claimed that “voting rights,” “education,” and “criminal law outcomes,” would “be greatly endangered” by Judge Kavanaugh – to whom he referred only as “Mr. Kavanaugh” – taking a seat on the Supreme Court.
“Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would fortify a generation of destructive conservative ideology at a time when several historically significant legal challenges will come before the high court,” Richmond told the committee, adding later that Kavanaugh’s writings demonstrate a “sparse commitment to equal protection under the law.”
In particular, Richmond saw Kavanaugh as a danger to race-based affirmative action programs, which have come under increased scrutiny from the existing conservative justices on the Supreme Court in recent years. “Mr. Kavanaugh’s record on affirmative action is particularly disturbing and ripe for intense scrutiny,” he said.
A 1999 op-ed Kavanaugh wrote for the Wall Street Journal was presented as objectionable. “Almost 20 years ago, while in private practice, he wrote that in the future the Supreme Court would agree that in the eyes of government we are just one race,” Richmond told the committee as he encouraged them to oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Kavanaugh was quoting the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Richmond specifically referenced, with disapproval, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s Department of Justice’s statement of interest in support of Asian-Americans suing Harvard University over its race-based admissions policies, suggesting Kavanaugh would help facilitate a shift away from the legal permissibility of affirmative action.
Richmond has been a consistent in criticizing the Trump administration on racial grounds. In January, he told CNN’s Don Lemon that he did not think Trump cared about black people.