Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2018

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OPINION:

We deserve more than a rubber stamp

The Supreme Court is a fundamental pillar of our democracy and exists to protect the rights and freedoms of everyone. However, our judicial system has become a weapon of powerful, corporate interests to strip working people of their rights to organize, to be safe at work and to receive equal justice under the law. For years, corporate interest groups have put millions of dollars into lobbying senators to confirm judges who will do their bidding on the bench.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, is their latest choice. If confirmed to a lifetime seat on the court, he will tip the scales of justice even further against working Nevadans.

The public service workers who make up  AFSCME Local 4041 go to work every day to make sure our communities are safe, healthy and strong. We believe working people deserve the freedom that comes with a good job, quality health care and a secure retirement. But the corporate interests behind Kavanaugh’s nomination don’t believe we deserve the freedoms they do.

Kavanaugh was hand-picked by the Heritage Foundation, a think tank with extreme views on workers’ rights, and the Federalist Society, which rakes in tens of millions in untraceable dark money from billionaires.

Kavanaugh’s record indicates that he would use the power of the bench to support an extreme, pro-corporate agenda. As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit, Kavanaugh has been highly dismissive of workplace safety. In SeaWorld of Florida v. Perez, he sided with a negligent employer who violated federal laws, resulting in the preventable death of an employee.

In American Federation of Government Employees v. Gates, his majority opinion gutted the collective bargaining rights of federal employees and dismissed the need for federal worker protections even in dangerous workplaces.

His criticisms of the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions could result in the loss of health care for millions of Americans. And he has argued that the president is above the law.

We cannot afford another justice who will put the interests of corporations and CEOs ahead of working people. Last term, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against millions of working people in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, overturning a 40-year-old unanimous precedent, and threatening the freedom of working people here to stand together in a strong union to win better wages, benefits and standards that benefit our communities.

The Janus case was a payoff in a yearslong investment by billionaire CEOs and corporate interests now pouring millions of dollars into a campaign to confirm Kavanaugh. Janus was but one of several blatant political attacks by special interest groups last term to use the highest court in the land as a tool to trample on the rights and freedoms of working people. It won’t be the last.

We need a justice who will protect the rights of all Americans. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., should oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Sonja Whitten is vice president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4041.