Thursday evening, former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens spoke to a group of retirees about his tenure and the current political climate. When asked his opinion on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, whom Stevens had once lauded, he said his views have changed after watching Kavanaugh’s hearing.
In a video from CSPAN, Stevens explains that he believes Kavanaugh is intellectually capable, but that “his performance” during the hearing does not represent the objectivity we should expect of a nominee to the country’s highest court. Kavanaugh showed his committee that he was biased, according to Stevens, and for that reason he’s not qualified to be a Supreme Court justice. Wrapping up, Stevens says that Senators need to be aware of Kavanaugh’s partisan attitudes and that it would be unhealthy to bring on a judge that would “only do a part-time job.”
Retired #SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens on Judge #Kavanaugh: “I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no really relationship to his intellectual ability or his record as a federal judge…I think that his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind.” pic.twitter.com/RyM6ZKOevx— CSPAN (@cspan) October 4, 2018
Stevens doesn’t even bring up the possibility that Kavanaugh stands accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women; the fact that Kavanaugh was unable to hide his obstinately biased opinions is enough to disqualify him. During the hearing, Kavanaugh consistently harassed Democratic Senators, asking them what alcohol they preferred, and if they had ever blacked out. Kavanaugh thought he was being infinitely clever when he childishly flipped questions back on senators and avoided giving straight answers—not to mention his opening statement, in which he blamed Democrats for drawing the nomination out and causing harm to his family.
For Stevens, this is a big step. In his tenure, he traditionally fell on the conservative side, landing liberal only in a few key moments, such as upholding Roe v. Wade. He’s right, though. When pressured, Kavanaugh wasn’t able to stay calm, let alone treat anyone with respect. The man who spoke in that hearing wouldn’t even be qualified to work in retail, let alone our highest court.
Yet with Kavanaugh’s joke of an FBI investigation coming to a disappointing close, and the full senate vote to confirm him beginning today, Oct. 5, Stevens is probably too late to make an impact.