Brett Kavanaugh's New Supreme Court Decision Contradicts His Own 'Boys Will Be Boys' Argument

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Brett Kavanaugh

Can you imagine a world where the mistakes and misconduct you participated in as a minor prevents you from having the career of your dreams and define the entire course of the rest of your life?

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh certainly can’t — at least, not for himself.

His own wrongdoings never halted his career for a moment, nor should they have, as those who supported him most ardently during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing argued, because "boys will be boys."

But now it appears he doesn't believe that same standard should apply across the board.

The new Supreme Court decision Kavanaugh penned will make sure teens less fortunate than he has been will never get that same chance at forgiveness.

In a 6-3 decision delivered by Justice Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court has just significantly rolled back the rights of juvenile offenders, making it easier to sentence those who are under the age of 18 to life in prison without parole.

Kavanaugh tore down existing restrictions on this sentence, effectively creating a system where fully rehabilitated people who committed crimes as children or teens may be doomed to die in prison even they were never deemed "permanently incorrigible," spending the rest of their many days there with no chance of release.

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Kavanaugh and his conservative majority have been sharply criticized over their handling of the case, stylized as "Jones v. Mississippi," by Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent.

The case in question is that of Brett Jones, who was convicted of murdering his grandfather at the age of 15.

Jones argued that he acted in self-defense, but was sentenced to life without parole in 2005. Since then, he has been bidding to have the punishment he received for a tragic mistake he made in his youth reconsidered.

It's a bid Kavanaugh knows well, as he essentially asked that the same kind of grace be shown to himself in regard to the disturbing behaviors he displayed in his own teenage years.

The decisions in two prior precedent-setting cases — 2012’s "Miller v. Alabama" and 2016’s "Montgomery v. Louisiana" — deemed juvenile life sentences unconstitutional and permitted minors previously convicted and given such sentences the right to appeal.

Those cases provided an avenue through which Jones sought to appeal his sentencing, as he had never been declared permanently incorrigible.

However, in his ruling, Kavanaugh declared that permanent incorrigibility — defined as "when a child repeatedly or habitually disobeys the direction of the child's lawful parents, guardians, or legal custodians" — does not have to be explicitly stated, a ruling Sotomayor and other dissenting Justices declared self-serving and hypocritical.

Sotomayor argued that the legal precedents did, in fact, require a judge to “actually make the judgment” that the child is incorrigible.

“Now, it seems, the court is willing to overrule precedent without even acknowledging it is doing so, much less providing any special justification,” Sotomayor wrote before using Kavanaugh’s own words against him. “It is hard to see how that approach is ‘founded in the law rather than in the proclivities of individuals.’”

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Kavanaugh’s actions also reflect hypocrisy of another kind, outside of his professional position.

If we are to accept that Kavanaugh has changed from the allegations posed against him in his youth, why is so opposed to allowing the same kind of forgiveness to be shown to juvenile offenders within the the U.S. justice system?

Kavanaugh’s ruling is hypocritical given his past.

Kavanaugh has essentially built his career on the pretense that “boys will be boys," benefiting hugely from the leniency we are apt to give children who commit wrongs.

When his 2018 bid for the Supreme Court was threatened by sexual assault allegations dating back to his teenage years, Kavanaugh hid behind supporters who passed off the claims as mere childhood antics.

Christine Blasey Ford alleged Kavanaugh had pinned her down and sexually assaulted her while the pair were teenagers at a high school party.

Later, a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, claimed Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her during college.

Rushing to his defense, Washington Post columnist Kelly Parker asked, “So here we are debating an adolescent boy’s qualifications to become a Supreme Court justice. What’s next, his potty training?”

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And then-president Donald Trump's then counselor Kellyanne Conway dismissed Kavanaugh's past actions as those of a mere teenager because, as she said, what he did back then "does not comport with" the man she felt he became.

Others passed off Kavanaugh's alleged behavior as the drunken antics of an innocent teen.

For his part, Kavanaugh denied the allegations while allowing others to use this narrative as the primary means of building his defense.

However, when it became his turn to build a case for children who committed crimes at the same age or younger than he was when these alleged assaults occurred, Kavanaugh took a far different approach.

Anything he may or may not have done as a child must be forgiven, Kavanaugh's decision seems to say, but what other may have done at the same age or younger are worthy of a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

In the earlier “Miller” decision, children were deemed to be “less culpable” than adults because their crimes often reflect “transient immaturity.”

It is a similar argument to the one favored by Kavanaugh’s supporters in his defense, yet he chose to ignore legal precedent arguing the same on behalf of less fortunate children when he had the chance from his exalted position on the Supreme Court.

If he feels so strongly about holding children accountable for their crimes for life, perhaps we should revisiting what we know about his teenage antics?

Justice Kavanaugh, do you still have that calendar handy?

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her on Twitter for more.