What to know about Brent Kavanaugh’s judicial record

If confirmed, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, would rank just after Justice Clarence Thomas as the court’s second most conservative member.

Why it matters: Kavanaugh’s confirmation would shift the court for a generation, impacting decisions on topics like gun rights, health care, social issues and more.

Executive power

  • In 2009, Kavanaugh “argued that presidents should not be distracted while in office by civil lawsuits or criminal investigations,” per The Post.


  • The White House, in a document sent out to business groups, “wrote that Kavanaugh has overruled federal regulators 75 times on cases involving clean air, consumer protections, net neutrality and other issues,” and most recently “favored curtailing the power of independent federal regulators.”

Health care

  • Kavanaugh’s most significant ACA-related decision was in a case about the individual mandate. He did not vote to uphold the mandate.
  • Another case sought to have the ACA invalidated because the Senate wrote most of it. “… The Constitution’s Origination Clause says bills that raise revenues have to originate in the House, not the Senate. Such Senate amendments are permissible under the Clause’s text and precedent,” Kavanaugh wrote. But he said an earlier ruling had upheld the law for the wrong reasons — and that his court should take another look at that decision. He lost.


  • Kavanaugh won’t be inclined to give federal agencies wide latitude on imposing climate and environmental regulations. “Longtime environmental lawyer David Bookbinder reports that, by his count, Kavanaugh has been involved with six climate change cases, and in five of those he took a ‘narrow’ view of EPA’s regulatory authority.”

Press freedom

  • ..is a constitutional conservative that some legal experts argue would likely side with conservatives in supporting corporate free speech cases.”
  • When it comes to net neutrality, Kavanaugh is a major net neutrality opponent. Kavanaugh argued that net neutrality violates the First Amendment, “because the rule impermissibly infringes on the Internet service providers’ editorial discretion.” Meaning even if net neutrality was legislated, he would still find it unconstitutional.


  • Kavanaugh has stood behind warrantless government surveillance in the past, including the NSA’s surveillance operation that former NSA contractor Ed Snowden exposed in 2013. He wrote, “the Government’s metadata collection program is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment. … In my view, that critical national security need outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by this program.”

Why Iowa matters:

Senator Charles Grassley is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee where he wields enormous influence on the confirmation process. He sets the agenda for the committee, and is responsible for scheduling hearings and votes on pending nominees. Potential judges can’t proceed to a Senate floor vote until they’ve been vetted by the committee.

Have questions/comments for Senator Grassley?  He will be on “recess” through the first part of September there will be opportunities to talk to him at town hall meetings or you can call, write or email his office!

Senator Chuck Grassley              http://www.grassley.senate.gov
Des Moines Office                          Washington, DC Office
721 Federal Building                      35 Hart Senate Office Building
210 Walnut Street                          Washington, D.C. 20510
Des Moines, IA 50309
515-288-1145                                202-224-3744