John Paul Stevens Opposes Kavanaugh: Thursday Hearing Made Me ‘Change My Mind’

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Group

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Thursday that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony a week ago convinced him to oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“I think that his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind,” Stevens said in a live interview at an event in Boca Raton, Florida, the Palm Beach Post first reported.

Stevens praised Kavanaugh in his 2014 book “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” the 98-year-old noted Thursday.

“At that time, I thought he had, definitely, the qualifications to sit on the Supreme Court, and should be confirmed if he was ever selected,” Stevens said. But, he added, “I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability or his record as a federal judge.” 

The retired justice said there was “merit” to the criticism that Kavanaugh’s fiery, partisan testimony last week “demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential litigants before the Court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities.”

“For the good of the Court,” Stevens added, “it’s not healthy to get a new justice that can only do a part time job.”

He elaborated later: “In this case, there are enough people who have been put into categories for which he would be unable to sit as a judge that he really should not get the job.”

In his testimony last week, Kavanaugh denied allegations of sexual assault against him and said they were “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” and fueled by “millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups,” unprecedented language from a Supreme Court nominee.

Stevens’ interviewer Thursday, Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino, asked what the difference was between Kavanaugh’s response to the allegations against him and then-nominee Clarence Thomas’ reaction to allegations of sexual harassment made against him by Anita Hill.

“I disagree with him on most of his important rulings,” Stevens said of Thomas, “but as a person, I am very fond of him.” 

“He is a very decent and likable person, and you cannot help but like Clarence Thomas, which I don’t think necessarily would be true of this particular nominee.” 

Watch below:

This post has been updated.

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