Kavanaugh Fails First SCOTUS Test
Article from Reason by Damon Root.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was asked by Sen. Mike Lee (R–Utah) whether or not he considered himself to be an originalist. “Originalism refers to basically textualism applied in the constitutional sphere, with an eye toward identifying the original public meaning of the constitutional text at issue,” Lee observed. So, “for our purposes today,” Lee asked the nominee, “you’re an originalist?” “That’s correct,” Kavanaugh promptly replied.
Many fans of originalism were no doubt heartened by that answer. Unfortunately for them, Kavanaugh just flunked his first big test as an originalist on the Supreme Court.
The test came last week in the case of Timbs v. Indiana. The matter arose in 2013 when a man named Tyson Timbs was arrested on drug charges and sentenced to one year on home detention and five years on probation. A few months after his arrest, the state of Indiana also moved to seize Timbs’ brand new Land Rover LR2, a vehicle worth around $40,000. But a state trial court rejected that civil asset forfeiture on the grounds that it would be “grossly disproportionate to the gravity of [Timbs’] offense” and therefore in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids the imposition of “excessive fines.”
Which brings us back to Brett Kavanaugh. Where, you may be wondering, was the Court’s newest self-described originalist in last week’s Timbs legal wrangling? Did Kavanaugh also explain where he stands on the crucial debate over the original meaning of the 14th Amendment? Did he say whether or not he agrees with Thomas? Did he perhaps lay out a different originalist take of his own? Alas, Kavanaugh did none of those things. He did not bother to weigh in at all.
Read the entire article at Reason.