Kamala Harris on Opposition to Brett Kavanaugh: ‘Replacing Kennedy Is About the Swing Vote on the United States Supreme Court’

Tuesday on PBS’s “NewsHour,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) offered her justification for her opposing Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, which she said had to do with Anthony Kennedy being the swing vote and how it could impact the 1972 landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Transcript as follows:

JUDY WOODRUFF, ‘PBS NEWSHOUR’: And now, for the Democrats’ perspective, I’m joined by California Senator Kamala Harris.

Senator Harris, thank for being here.

As you know, the president is calling Judge Kavanaugh one of the most qualified people ever to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Your view?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Well, listen, I would categorize this nomination differently, which is that this is one of the most important positions on the United States Supreme Court, because, of course, replacing Kennedy is about the swing vote on the United States Supreme Court.

And we need to look at what that means in terms of the replacement of Kennedy on issues like choice, on issues like Affordable Care Act, on issues like same-sex marriage, knowing that Kennedy voted one way, but given Kavanaugh’s track record, we have reason to believe that he would actually vote differently if these cases, if these types of cases were presented to him.

So I look at it more as what the — the significance of this nomination of this particular person for that seat. And on that basis, I am opposed to his nomination. And I am very concerned about what his nomination will mean for future generations on these issues and so many more.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So you have already decided you are going to vote against him before any hearing begins?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: You know, listen, I’m going to listen to what he has to say. I am in the possess of reviewing his writings and his background in terms of the decisions he’s made and the speeches he’s given.

But they all lead me to one conclusion, which is that he is not — he doesn’t have the ability to really enforce those words that are inscribed on the building that is the United States Supreme Court, which is equality under the law.

I don’t believe that he will be able to fulfill that promise that is equal justice under the law for all people, given his track record.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What specifically in his record points you in that direction?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Well, let’s look at, for example, what he has done on the issue of choice and a woman’s right to choose.

Judy, this is such a fundamental issue. Let’s put aside the phrase or case Roe v. Wade. Let’s talk about what it stands for. The issue presented is whether government will make — whether the United States government will make a decision about whether a person can decide what is done to their body and what happens with their body, and replace the government’s decision with the decision that that person should be able to have the power to make about what happens to their body.

Essentially, that’s a fundamental point that’s presented with Roe v. Wade. And he seems to believe that the government is in a better position to make a decision about what that person does with their body than allowing that person to make the decision about their life, in consultation with their physician, in consultation with their family, in consultation with their god.

He wants to replace government, instead of having that person make their decision for themselves and for their life. And that is fundamentally flawed, I believe.

(CROSSTALK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m sorry to interrupt.

I just was going to say — I don’t know if you were able to hear Senator Hatch, who preceded you, but he’s saying the Roe is — pretty much, there’s agreement it’s settled law, that he thinks that’s what Judge Kavanaugh believes.

And, in his words — quote — “Nobody thinks that’s going to be overturned.”

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: So, I don’t think we should parse words.

The issue is not only about Roe v. Wade as a case in precedent. It is about everything that it stands for in terms of agreeing that the government shouldn’t make those decisions for a woman, that that’s a private decision that she should be able to make.

The concern I have about his appointment and him being on the United States Supreme Court is that we already know that there are probably 20 states that are prepared and have been in the process of restricting a woman’s right to make that decision in terms of giving her meaningful access to not only reproductive health care, but also to an abortion.

And my concern is that those cases will then be appealed up to the United States Supreme Court, and he, being the swing vote on that court, will consistently uphold these restrictions on a woman’s meaningful access to reproductive care, and, in effect, then, can overturn Roe v. Wade without explicitly overturning Roe v. Wade, in that affirming these state laws, these restrictions on a woman’s access to reproductive health care, they will essentially eliminate a woman’s ability to have an abortion if she makes the decision that that is necessary.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when it comes the that, or you mentioned the Affordable Care Act, you mentioned the same-sex marriage decision — when Judge Kavanaugh said last night, I judge — I make decisions on each case based on that case, I have an open mind, you’re saying you don’t believe that?

Or explain.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: I believe that he has a track record and a proven track record of not supporting these fundamental rights, such as same-sex marriage.

I believe that his background tells us that he believes that issues like marriage and the decision that one makes to have a legal relationship with the person they love is not an expression of a fundamental right.

This is his track record. And these are the concerns I have about his background and his philosophy as he approaches these kinds of cases, and, in particular, cases that bring up issues of civil rights and equal rights for all people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And so, quickly, Senator, you have said you pretty much decided you’re going to vote against him. Do you know yet what you want to ask him at the hearing?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Well, I will definitely ask him about whether he believes that Roe v. Wade is settled law. It is also important to also know how he feels about issues like same-sex marriage and whether he believes that marriage is a fundamental right that should be guaranteed to all people, again, in terms of just principles of equality and fairness under the law.

There are questions I have about where he stands on issues like discrimination, be it against members of the LGBTQ community, or based on race or based on religion. Those are serious questions that I have about his perspective and what he is willing to do to uphold, again, those principles that are about equal justice under the law.

(h/t RCP Video)

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