Irish experts say Kavanaugh appointment will hurt US court’s international reputation



Ivana Bacik

The appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will further undermine the court’s international reputation, according to Irish legal experts.

Senator Ivana Bacik, a qualified barrister and legal academic who has co-authored texts on crime, human rights and constitutional law, told Irish Legal News that his confirmation was “most regrettable”.

She said she agreed with the view of Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, former legal affairs correspondent for The Irish Times, who wrote on Saturday that the rest of the world is already “paying less attention” to the SCOTUS.

He argued that the US court is “increasingly out of step” with other western courts, and the “horror-show of Kavanaugh’s confirmation” would hasten its international decline.

Conor O’Mahony, senior lecturer in constitutional law and child law at UCC School of Law, tweeted that Mr Mac Cormaic’s article was “superb [at] putting Kavanaugh nomination in broader context of international standing of US Supreme Court”.

Commenting today, Senator Bacik told Irish Legal News: “As the US Supreme Court appears to become more and more openly partisan, particularly with the most regrettable confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, it is not surprising that legal scholars and courts in other jurisdictions are paying less and less attention to the substance of its judgments.

“Where once law students in Ireland and elsewhere would be expected to become familiar with the development of US jurisprudence on specific issues, now we are increasingly looking for persuasive comparative legal arguments from more relevant and worthwhile judicial decisions from other jurisdictions and the European Court of Human Rights.”

Senator Bacik has been Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at TCD School of Law since 1996 and a Fellow at TCD since 2005.

Justice Kavanaugh’s appointment was confirmed by US Senators on Saturday in a 50-48 vote - the tightest margin for a successful nomination since 1881, The New York Times reports.

In the run-up to the vote, he was dogged by allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct from three women, including Professor Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in September.

However, US President Donald Trump described the allegations as “false things that were said about a very fine man” and almost all Republican Senators voted to confirm his appointment.