THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 09 October 2018 (Hard justice)

Hard justice 

Mains Paper: 2 | Judiciary 
Prelims level: Not so important 
Mains level: With Brett Kavanaugh confirmed, Republicans enjoy great power to shape the U.S. agenda 


  • The U.S. Senate has confirmed the nomination of conservative-leaning judge Brett Kavanaugh, by a vote of 50-48, and he was sworn in as a ninth justice of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
  • The narrow victory of the second successful nominee of President Donald Trump to the highest court came after a furore involving allegations of sexual misconduct levelled by Christine Blasey Ford, a Professor of Psychology.
  • Under pressure after Ms. Ford came forward, the Republican majority on Capitol Hill agreed to an FBI inquiry into the allegations against Mr. Kavanaugh. 
  • While the FBI was limited to a tight deadline, given a predetermined list of persons it could interview, and constraints on the kind of evidence it could obtain, no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing emerged. 
  • Mr. Kavanaugh now takes the place of retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, a judge seen as a potential swing vote on contentious issues such as marriage equality. 
  • Chief Justice John Roberts is also considered by some to be a potential swing vote, as he was in the case that established the legality of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
  • This, is the critical question facing American jurisprudence.

Has the rightward tilt of the SCOTUS intensified with Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation? 

  • Liberal-progressive America may understandably fear that the country is on the brink of a new epoch of politics and social justice that could herald a rollback of hard-fought freedoms in areas such as women’s reproductive rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, rights of racial or ethnic minorities, immigration reform, and environmental controls. 
  • Mr. Kavanaugh’s past rulings on assault weapons bans, religious liberty rights and the constitutional rights of large financial corporations.
  • His rulings in future cases may well favour conservatives for example, by giving the Second Amendment on the right to bear arms more teeth, by potentially re-opening Roe v. Wade on abortion, or by allowing state-level challenges that go against the marriage equality tenet implied by Obergefell v. Hodges .

Way forward 

  • The U.S. President is immune to criminal prosecution, especially since Mr. Kavanaugh helped write the Ken Starr Report calling for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. 
  • Would he still stand by sections of that report that argued in favour of an impeachment for lying? 
  • Taking a step back from the Kavanaugh nomination, it is evident that even if Democrats are in a strong position to win back the House of Representatives in the coming mid-term elections, control of the White House.
  • The Senate and SCOTUS gives the Republican Party a magnitude of control rarely seen in recent times, and with it the power to reinsert conservative values into the heart of American democracy.

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UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) Which of the following are the federal features of the Indian constitution ?
1. Written Constitution
2. Flexibility of the Constitution
3. Division of Powers
4. Integrated Judiciary
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 and 3 only
(b) 1 and 4 only
(c) 2, 3 and 4 only
(d) 1, 3 and 4 only
Answer:  A

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Has the rightward tilt of the SCOTUS intensified with Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation?