Education Reform School Choice Vouchers

Politico: Brett Kavanaugh on Education Issues

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The signs and portents on Trump’s Choice for the Supreme Court are not good.

Politico reports:

WHAT KAVANAUGH MEANS FOR EDUCATION: D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, has considered some of the most contentious issues in education throughout his lengthy legal career. He’s written on school prayer, the separation of church and state, and affirmative action.

— Kavanaugh highlighted his connection to education during his speech Monday night, describing himself as a teacher’s son who tutors area children. He talked about his mother. “In the 1960s and ’70s, she taught history at two largely African-American public high schools in Washington, D.C., McKinley Tech and H.D. Woodson,” he said. “Her example taught me the importance of equality for all Americans.”

— Kavanaugh has tutored at Washington Jesuit Academy, where he sits on the board of directors, and at J.O. Wilson Elementary School, according to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals website. He went to high school at Georgetown Prep — which Justice Neil Gorsuch also attended — and is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.

— Here’s a breakdown of Kavanaugh’s education record, dug up by Pro’s Michael Stratford:

— School prayer and religious freedom: Kavanaugh wrote an amicus brief in December 1999 in favor of a Texas high school’s policy allowing the use of a public address system for student-led and student-initiated prayers at school football games. The amicus brief, on behalf of Oklahoma Republican Reps. Steve Largent and J.C. Watts, argued that the policy passed constitutional muster — an argument the Supreme Court rejected. In a 6-3 ruling, the court declared the school policy allowing prayer unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

— Affirmative action: Kavanaugh in 1999 co-wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a group that opposes race-based affirmative action in college admissions. The brief argued that a Hawaii law allowing only Native Hawaiians to vote in elections for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was unconstitutional in prohibiting people from voting because of their race. (The Supreme Court agreed with that argument in a 7-2 decision.) When asked about the brief and its implications for affirmative action in 2004 as part of his confirmation for the D.C. Circuit Court, Kavanaugh said: “The Supreme Court has decided many cases on affirmative action programs and, if confirmed, I would faithfully follow those precedents.”

— School choice: Kavanaugh said during his 2004 Senate confirmation hearing that he had previously served as the co-chairman of the Federalist Society’s “School Choice Practice Group.” Kavanaugh also said, in response to written questions, that he had “worked on school choice litigation in Florida for a reduced fee.” He didn’t provide additional details about that matter. On private school choice, Kavanaugh predicted in a TV appearance in 2000 that school vouchers would one day be upheld by the Supreme Court.

— CFBP: Kavanaugh in a October 2016 opinion declared the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional. The CFPB, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, pursued high-profile cases against for-profit colleges and student loan companies, during the Obama administration. Kavanaugh’s opinion said that Congress had wrongly placed “enormous executive power” in the CFPB’s single director. Supporters of the CFPB accused Kavanaugh of acting as a partisan activist, and the constitutionality of the CFPB’s structure was later upheld.

— Opponents of Kavanaugh’s nomination are already mounting their case. Civil rights groups and teachers unions were quick to blast the nominee within minutes of Trump’s announcement. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights decried him as “a direct threat to our civil and human rights,” adding that “he has consistently ruled for the wealthy and powerful.”

— National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García said Kavanaugh will be a “rubber stamp” for the agenda of Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, including on school choice issues like vouchers. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said that a Supreme Court nominee “should be fair, independent and committed to protecting the rights, freedoms and legal safeguards that protect every one of us. Judge Kavanaugh does not meet this standard.”

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