WILKES-BARRE — Hours before President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court Monday night, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey made it clear he would oppose any selection.
Casey (D-Scranton), said that in a nation with over 700 sitting federal judges, many of whom were appointed by Republican presidents, it is “outrageous that President Trump will nominate from a list of just 25 dictated to him” by the Heritage Foundation.
Casey called that “a corrupt bargain.”
According to its website, the foundation’s mission is “to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”
Trump announced his choice Monday night. He tapped Kavanaugh, 53, to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“This list is the bidding of corporate special interests hell-bent on handing health care over to insurance companies, crushing unions that represent working men and women, and promoting policies that will leave the middle-class further behind,” Casey said. “Any judge on this list is fruit of a corrupt process straight from the D.C. swamp.”
Casey said Heritage is an extreme right organization that recently released a new proposal to end protections for people with pre-existing conditions and gut Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, and children.
“They (Heritage) recently hosted a press conference for Republican attorneys general who are trying to eliminate those protections through the courts,” Casey said. “In Pennsylvania, there are more than 5.3 million people — including 643,000 children — who have pre-existing conditions.”
Casey, 58, is seeking his third 6-year term in the U.S. Senate in November. He is opposed by U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, 62 of Hazleton.
Barletta said Casey is “so blinded by partisanship” that he is opposing a nominee for the Supreme Court before the pick is announced.
“How can you condemn a nominee before she or he has been named, and then declare your opposition to that person before you have even met with them?” Barletta asked. “Bob Casey now attacks judges he once supported as ‘hard-right,’ because Casey has moved hard-left. What has changed during Bob Casey’s time in office? Bob Casey has changed.”
In a statement released after the announcement, Barletta said he fully supports the president’s choice.
“Judge Kavanaugh is one of the nation’s most respected conservative legal minds and has a strong record of respecting the rule of law, as laid out by the Constitution. This process was transparent from the start, with the President releasing a list of potential nominees to be fully vetted by the American people,” Barletta said.
Casey went on to say Heritage has also called labor unions — who helped build the middle class — “cartels.” He said from the formation of the first permanent Pennsylvanian local labor union in Philadelphia in 1792, through the Lattimer massacre in Northeastern Pennsylvania, to the Homestead Strike in Western Pennsylvania to today’s struggle to protect the right to organize, Pennsylvania workers have led the way to ensure that working people have basic rights, good wages, and benefits, like health care.
“The last thing working men and women in Pennsylvania need is another corporate justice on an increasingly corporate court,” Casey said. “I was elected to represent all Pennsylvanians. I was not elected to genuflect to the hard right, who are funded by corporate America.”
Casey then said that President Lincoln called on the nation to work to ensure “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” He said instead, Congressional Republicans in Washington and the Administration are determined to pack the Supreme Court with a government of, by, and for extreme right corporate interests.
“I will oppose the nomination the President will make tonight because it represents a corrupt bargain with the far right, big corporations, and Washington special interests,” Casey said.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.