'Constitutional Malpractice': Conservative Writer Argues Kavanaugh's Shameful Answer on Presidential Self-Pardons Is Disqualifying

'Constitutional Malpractice': Conservative Writer Argues Kavanaugh's Shameful Answer on Presidential Self-Pardons Is Disqualifying

As Judge Brett Kavanaugh strives for a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States, he whiffed on a pertinent constitutional question of major importance — on the pressing issue of whether a president can pardon himself.


Asked whether a president can issue a "self-pardon." Kavanaugh said it is "something I’ve never analyzed." He said he is refusing to answer any "hypothetical" questions, and similarly refused to respond to a question about whether the president can be subpoenaed. When asked if the president could use the pardon power to bribe someone for their silence, he also declined to answer.  

This issue is particularly pressing, given that President Donald Trump is the subject of a serious investigation centered around international crimes. Meanwhile, Trump has asserted that he has the unilateral right to pardon himself — it seems only reasonable that the judge he nominated to sit on the Supreme Court shares that view.

Trump has also repeatedly hinted that he's willing to pardon his former campaign chair Paul Manafort — now convicted of bank and tax fraud — as long as he doesn't cooperate with prosecutors.

Conservative writer Jennifer Rubin argued in the Washington Post that the Senate cannot approve his nomination in good faith until he provides a better answer to these questions.

She argued:

It is mind-boggling, in one sense, that a federal judge doesn’t have a concrete answer as to whether the president can shred the Constitution in this way. “Can a president bribe someone?” is not a hard question. “Does our constitutional system permit the president to go on a crime spree and pardon himself?” shouldn’t be up for debate. And yet Kavanaugh ducks answering.

"Republicans and Democrats here need to consider the real possibility that Kavanaugh was picked precisely because he’d be the most likely judge to let President Trump get away with unconstitutional antics," she continued. "He can give more definitive answers. He can recuse himself. But confirming him as things currently stand would be constitutional malpractice."

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