Jimmy Carter: Brett Kavanaugh ‘Unfit’ to Serve on Supreme Court

Former U.S. President and Emory University Distinguished Professor Jimmy Carter said on Wednesday that he believes Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is “unfit” to serve on the nation’s most powerful judicial body.

The 39th president called Kavanaugh’s appointment “a very serious mistake” in response to Alexandra Miljanic (19C)’s question as he addressed Professor of Practice Hank Klibanoff’s Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project class. Miljanic referenced Carter’s Georgia Law Day speech, in which he had called for a strong and ethical judicial system, and asked about Carter’s perspective on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“Whether or not [Kavanaugh] attempted to rape [Christine Blasey Ford], I thought he was temperamentally unfit to serve on the Supreme Court because of his outburst during the hearing,” Carter said in a video posted on Facebook by an attendee. 

Carter’s remarks came after a tense confirmation process for Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault by multiple women. Ford, a California professor who said Kavanaugh attempted to rape her while they were both in high school, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee days before the judge was confirmed 50-48 on Oct. 6. Kavanaugh, who denied any sexual misconduct, also delivered an emotional testimony before the committee that ranged from tears to anger.

“I saw him lose his cool,” Carter said, adding that Kavanaugh’s testimony was partisan at times.

The former president said Kavanaugh seemed “very well-qualified” from his legal career, but he believed Ford’s testimony to be truthful.

Carter did not appoint anyone to the Supreme Court, although two of his Court of Appeals appointees — Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — were later selected for the Supreme Court by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Angela Jiang (19C), a student in Klibanoff’s class, told the Wheel that Carter is responsible for dynamic changes in politics.

“While current events at times [are] disparaging and personally troubling to me, in the room, I couldn’t help but wonder about how pivotal President Carter’s political career was for progressivism in America,” Jiang wrote in an Oct. 17 email to the Wheel. “I believe locally, President Carter was a catalyst for progressive sentiment we’re experiencing with our new candidates today.”

Arianna Murray (20C), another student, said she appreciated hearing Carter speak about other topics that were related to the Cold Cases class.

“I thought it was great to hear more about the history and social environment of Georgia, especially during President Carter’s time working in state and local government,” Murray wrote in an email to the Wheel.

Editor’s Note: Klibanoff is the Wheel’s adviser. He was not involved in the composition or editing of this article.

UPDATE (10/17/18 at 6:10 p.m.): The article was updated to include Murray’s reaction to the event.

UPDATE (10/17/18 at 6:38 p.m.): The article was updated to include Jiang’s reaction.

UPDATE (10/17/18 at 9:24 p.m.): The article was updated to reflect that Carter made the Kavanaugh remarks in response to a student’s question and to correct a typo in Jiang’s quote.

UPDATE (10/18/18 at 10:37 a.m.): The article was updated to include Miljanic’s question.

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