Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, leaves the Senate Judiciary Committee room for a short break on the third day of his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite | The Associated Press)

Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, leaves the Senate Judiciary Committee room for a short break on the third day of his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite | The Associated Press)

Opinion: Sen. Murkowski should vote ‘no’ on Kavanaugh

For the sake of Alaska’s workers, I hope they reject his nomination.

The Senate is facing a critical decision: whether to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Our Senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, are likely to be deciding votes on the nomination. For the sake of Alaska’s workers, I hope they reject his nomination.

Simply put, Kavanaugh is one of the most radical judicial activist who’s been proposed for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. From his previous work as a lower level judge, he has a long record of making up law and trying to undo longstanding laws and precedents. Making up laws from the bench is completely inappropriate for a Supreme Court nominee, and for this reason alone Murkowski should reject him.

Kavanaugh has a long record of anti-worker decisions that stand to impact all Alaskans who work hard to support their families. Kavanaugh not only has a consistent record of hostility to working families, but goes out of his way to undermine key laws and precedents protecting workers on the job.

Here are just a few examples. In the Miller vs. Clinton case, Kavanaugh tried to defend age discrimination by an employer, and supported the firing of a 65-year-old worker merely because of her age, not her ability. As Alaskans live longer and work longer, we deserve the longstanding legal protections that prohibit age discrimination. If Kavanaugh wants to legalize age discrimination, then he should run for office rather than trying to legislate from the bench.

In an even more disturbing case (SeaWorld vs. Perez), Kavanaugh tried to protect an employer whose willful negligence resulted in an employee fatality. The employer — SeaWorld — failed to take basic, required steps to protect a trainer. In a remarkable display of callous judicial activism, Kavanaugh claimed that efforts to protect workers on the job are “paternalistic,” and that the employer should have been allowed to kill its worker with impunity. Consider all the potentially dangerous jobs in Alaska — oil and gas, timber, fishing — clearly employers and regulatory agencies should attempt to reduce the risk of death or serious injury on the job. Kavanaugh’s callous approach to employee safety is a clear indicator that he is not fit and would be extremely dangerous on the court.

Kavanaugh has a long record of opposing employee bargaining rights, both in the public and private sector. In the Agri Processor case, Kavanaugh said illegal immigrants are not “employees” under the law and therefore do not have collective bargaining rights. This opinion has no basis in law or precedent, and is one among many examples of Kavanaugh’s unrestrained judicial activism. Whatever you think about immigration, Kavanaugh’s opinion could harm workers who are citizens: Incentivizing employers to hire easy-to-abuse illegal immigrants would mean fewer jobs for Americans, including in our timber industry.

Brett Kavanaugh grew up in Washington, D.C. as the son of a wealthy, politically-connected corporate lobbyist. He has no experience with real world challenges facing working families, and no experience on real job sites, particularly those that are found in Alaska. Perhaps his isolation to everyday realities facing working people is why he demonstrates such callousness toward on the job deaths, and other flagrant abuses. Kavanaugh has made clear his contempt for labor laws established by the National Labor Relations Act, and safety standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Murkowski should vote “no” on his nomination, because if these laws are to be changed, that should be the job of Congress and not rogue activist judges like Kavanaugh.


Tom Brice is a Laborer and served in the Alaska Legislature from 1993 to 2000. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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