Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Kavanaugh Confirmation Process Shows a Damaged U.S. Judiciary
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court a year ago shined a bright light on major challenges facing the federal judiciary, according to a new column from the Center for American Progress.

The 50-48 vote to confirm Kavanaugh, despite credible allegations of sexual assault and a sham FBI investigation into those charges, was not an anomaly, the column says. Rather, it exposed a troubling history of conservative court packing and a lack of ethical oversight within the entire judiciary.

“Justice Kavanaugh’s seat on the Supreme Court is a direct result of the conservative politicization of the courts and the gaping loopholes in judicial ethics standards,” said Maggie Jo Buchanan, director of Legal Progress at CAP. “The anniversary of his confirmation should be a reminder of not only his unfitness to serve on the high court, but also of the reforms necessary to improve our federal justice system as a whole.”

A variety of reforms have been advanced to address these problems, including changing the structure of the Supreme Court, instituting term limits for all federal judges, and establishing independent commissions to recommend federal judicial nominees. On ethics reform, proposals have been put forward to expand existing ethics requirements and create a panel responsible for enforcing those requirements.

While Kavanaugh and his confirmation process should be the focus of robust oversight, the column urges policymakers to also fix accountability issues within the entire federal judiciary system that damage the institution’s legitimacy.

Read the column: “Brett Kavanaugh: A Representation of the Damaged U.S. Judiciary” by Maggie Jo Buchanan and Abbey Meller

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at or 202-478-6327.