Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a lifelong Republican, has said he is opposed to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the highest court in the land.
The 98-year-old Stevens told a crowd of retirees in Boca Raton, Florida on Thursday that he believes Kavanaugh lacks the appropriate temperament necessary for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
Stevens came out against Kavanaugh’s confirmation even though he previously praised the federal judge for his ruling in a case about campaign contributions.
In the 2014 book Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, Stevens wrote glowingly of Kavanaugh.
‘At that time, I thought (Kavanaugh) had the qualifications for the Supreme Court should he be selected,’ Stevens said in comments reported by the Palm Beach Post.
‘I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability…I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.’
Stevens, who was appearing at an event hosted by a retirement group, said that he agrees with critics who say that Kavanaugh’s testimony during last Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing showed a partisan bias that is disqualifying.
‘I think there’s merit to that criticism and I think the senators should really pay attention that,’ Stevens said.
Stevens was referring to Kavanaugh’s angry statement last Thursday in which he accused Democrats of waging a smear campaign to derail his confirmation.
Another former Republican judge – Robert S. Smith – told MSNBC on Thursday night that he does not support Kavanugh’s nomination, having previously admired him.
Smith said that he was ‘unhappy’ with Kavanaugh’s testimony, and in particular his weak denials about comments written in his yearbook.
‘I was particularly upset with the one that someone referred to earlier: The idea that you use a girl’s name with the word “alumnus” as a caption to a group of football players, and he tried to sell the idea that this was a respectful display of platonic friendship. I just don’t buy it.
‘It’s upsetting because, it suggests that if he’ll deny that, what won’t he deny?’
Former Judge says he no longer supports Kavanaugh nomination, citing the reason Kavanaugh gave for “Renate Alumnus”
“It’s upsetting because, it suggests that if he’ll deny that, what won’t he deny” pic.twitter.com/LNDfuDBCQU
While Smith said Kavanugh’s poor behavior isn’t necessarily disqualifying in and of itself, his refusal to accept it should be.
Smith described claims by Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexuall assaulted her at a party in the 1980s, as: ‘A credible allegation, not credibly denied.’
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied allegations of sexual misconduct after three women came forward to accuse him of acts he committed decades ago.
One of the women, Christine Blasey Ford, gave sworn testimony before the committee last Thursday before Kavanaugh gave his own statement.
She said that when she was 15 years old, Kavanaugh, who was 17 then, tried to rape her after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
In 2010, Stevens retired from the bench after serving for 35 years – one of the longest tenured justices in history.
Stevens’ seat was filled by Elena Kagan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.
Stevens was appointed to the bench in 1975 by President Gerald Ford.
Stevens, whose confirmation was unanimous, lamented the highly partisan atmosphere in Washington that has also engulfed the judiciary.
Though he was appointed by a Republican and is a lifelong member of the GOP, Stevens has at times sided with liberal justices on key issues.
Stevens was one of three justices who offered dissenting opinions in the Bush v. Gore case which effectively halted the Florida ballot recount in the 2000 presidential election.
The decision effectively handed the presidency to George W. Bush.
‘Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is clear,’ Stevens wrote in his dissent.
‘It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as impartial guardian of the rule of law.’
Stevens says that the courts have been unable to restore the nation’s confidence that it is an impartial referee.
Since retiring, Stevens has staked out liberal positions on some issues, like gun control.
But he has also maintained that flag burning should be illegal.
Stevens said that during his time on the bench, justices were not as beholden to the presidents who appointed them as they are today.
Meanwhile, there are indications that Kavanaugh will eventually win confirmation.
President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans gained confidence on Thursday that his nominee Kavanaugh would win Senate confirmation after two wavering lawmakers responded positively to an FBI report on accusations of sexual misconduct against the judge.
The report, sent by the White House to the Senate Judiciary Committee in the middle of the night, was denounced by Democrats as a whitewash that was too narrow in scope and ignored critical witnesses.
Thousands of anti-Kavanaugh protesters rallied outside the Supreme Court and entered a Senate office building, holding signs such as ‘Believe Survivors’ and ‘Kava-Nope.’
But Republicans moved forward with plans for a key procedural vote on Friday and a final vote on Saturday on confirming the conservative federal appeals judge for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court.
Comments by two crucial Republican senators – Jeff Flake and Susan Collins – indicated the FBI report, which was the latest twist in the pitched political battle over Kavanaugh, may have allayed their concerns about Kavanaugh.
Flake, a frequent Trump critic, was instrumental in getting the president to order the FBI investigation last Friday.
Trump, himself accused by numerous women during the 2016 presidential race of sexual misconduct, wrote on Twitter that the FBI report showed that the allegations against Kavanaugh were ‘totally uncorroborated.’