Hillary Clinton Says Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Will Bring Back Slavery
On Friday morning, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, would bring back slavery if he is confirmed to the nation's highest court.
"Let me say a word about the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court," Clinton told the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at its national convention. "This nomination holds out the threat of devastating consequences for workers rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights — including those to make our own health decisions."
"It is a blatant attempt by this administration to shift the balance of the Court for decades and to reverse decades of progress," the former Democratic presidential nominee declared.
Then came the kicker: "I used to worry that they [the Republicans] wanted to turn the clock back to the 1950s. Now I worry they want to turn it back to the 1850s."
Clinton was clearly suggesting that Trump and Kavanaugh want to return to the days when slavery was legal in the South. The irony is, originalist Supreme Court justices like Kavanaugh would have agreed with Abraham Lincoln against the South, especially on the issue of slavery.
The American Civil War started in 1861, after a tense decade of increasing hostility between Southern Democrats who wanted to extend slavery beyond its boundaries as established by constitutional laws and Northern Republicans who saw slavery as evil and wanted to keep it within those limits. Republican Abraham Lincoln campaigned on restraining the evil institution, but an activist Supreme Court ruled that slavery could extend into the territories.
Ironically, another Republican president wants to restrain another activist Supreme Court, and Democrat Hillary Clinton is scaremongering.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh is an originalist, which means he holds to the original intent of the Constitution and would uphold the laws as written. In the 1850s, that would have meant restraining the spread of slavery — Lincoln's position. In 2018, it may mean reversing key decisions liberals hail as granting new rights.
Never, ever, ever would a Supreme Court justice in 2018 try to bring back slavery. No originalist would ever want to overturn the 13th Amendment, as the Constitution itself now declares (and has since 1865) that slavery — except in the case of servitude for committing a crime — is illegal in the United States.
Originalists may overturn Roe v. Wade (1973) or Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) — although Chief Justice John Roberts is a gradualist and so would likely restrain the Court from taking one huge action like that. Even if they do, states would immediately pass laws legalizing abortion and gay marriage.
But no justice in 2018 will ever return the United States to the 1850s.