They stood just a stone’s throw away from the Barnegat Bay and Mantoloking Bridge — an area devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
This was the latest rally against President Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. His environmental record has been on blast by activists and New Jersey’s Democratic congressional leaders.
“Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most anti-environment judges in America,” Sen. Bob Menendez said.
“Usually the courts are the place you go to balance the scales of justice, but now we face a moment where for a generation the scales will be out of balance,” Sen. Cory Booker said.
Menendez and Booker railed against the conservative judge’s history in environmental rulings, arguing his confirmation has the potential to reshape environmental law for generations.
“Case after case, Kavanaugh stands with dirty energy companies and against clean air and water for families. He argued that EPA rules should prioritize corporate profits over public health and safety. He sought to overturn restrictions against mercury and other neurotoxins that put our children at risk,” Menendez said.
“The 40 years of history, of the past, and he’s a young guy. He could be on the courts for 40 years. That’s 80 years of environmental policy that could be either undone or put into the caves, never to be seen again,” said Clean Water Action New Jersey state director Amy Goldsmith.
“The lower court rulings he was involved with essentially took this ideological position that the EPA doesn’t have the authority to do things, that rule making is not appropriate,” said Rep. Frank Pallone.
This, as top U.S. Democratic leaders plan to meet with Kavanaugh in the coming days. It’s a significant step after Sen. Chuck Schumer said they’d oppose the nomination. Democrats are requesting a lengthy paper trail of Kavanaugh’s history and work in the George W. Bush administration. Monday, Menendez brushed off the meeting as simply procedural.
“Our whole effort here is to make sure that at the end of the day we can stop this nomination,” Menendez said.
Meanwhile, others in the state have pointed out not all of Kavanaugh’s work sided against the environment, like a 2009 ruling that found road and transportation building groups didn’t have standing to challenge certain EPA rules.
Menendez’s Republican rival for the midterms, Bob Hugin, has yet to take a stance on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Instead, offering a statement: “In case Senators Menendez and Booker forgot, the role of a judge is to review challenges presented to laws passed by Congress … Bob Hugin will work with people in both parties to ensure clean air and water, encourage the President to enter into agreements that protect our environment …”
“This is the moment you cannot be silent. The opposite of justice is not always injustice. It’s often silence, indifference, inaction. And this press conference is a moment for us to try and wake folks up to the threats that we have now in this nomination, to ask people to speak up,” Booker said.
It’s looking more and more unlikely that Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed in time for the October deadline Republicans have been pushing. If he does though, the first case he’d hear is on an environmental issue.