If President Donald Trump’s last Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is any indication, his latest pick in Brett Kavanaugh will do the civil rights community no favors, National Urban League President Marc Morial said following the announcement of the president’s high court nominee.
Morial wasn’t alone, as many others joined in to call on the Senate to reject Kavanaugh, 53, who currently serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Some of Kavanaugh’s more controversial opinions are at the core of arguments for those who oppose his appointment.
While he hasn’t expressed outright opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, critics note that Kavanaugh may likely side with Trump, when he eventually votes on the issue of abortion.
In one opinion, Kavanaugh did write that the government has “permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion.”
In other issues that appear more germane to minority groups and communities of color, Kavanaugh has issued controversial rulings on religious liberty and the Second Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court is the final stop for justice in America. The Supreme Court’s rulings affect all citizens, because every state must follow its decisions.
“Judge Kavanaugh has a record of ruling against affordable healthcare and women’s reproductive rights. Particularly troubling is his record on cases involving racial and workforce discrimination,” Morial said. “Seating a Supreme Court nominee with an obvious disdain for fundamental liberties will change American life as we know it.”
Tom Steyer, who runs the California-based group, “Need to Impeach,” has urged all his constituents to contact their senators to stop the nomination.
“Brett Kavanaugh is here for a reason. He believes presidents should be exempt from criminal prosecution and investigation while in office,” Steyer said, noting Kavanaugh’s previous comments about the presidency and his opposition to prosecuting a sitting president.
Kavanaugh has suggested that Congress pass a law barring sitting presidents from criminal prosecution and investigation, personal civil suits, and questioning from criminal attorneys.
He has claimed that presidents can disregard laws they consider unconstitutional, despite what courts say.
Kavanaugh, a Georgetown educated jurist, who also teaches at Harvard Law School, declared the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional; he also wrote that Washington D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic rifles was unconstitutional.
“He’s anti-choice—just last year, he argued in favor of prohibiting an undocumented pregnant immigrant in federal custody from getting an abortion. He considers the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional,” Steyer said.
Kavanaugh has also attempted to roll back President Obama’s greenhouse gas regulations.
Ben Betz, the Digital Advocacy Director for the left-leaning Northwest, D.C. group “People for the American Way,” said Kavanaugh is “not just your run-of-the-mill narrow-minded, elitist judge.”
While Justice Kennedy, whom Kavanaugh would replace, was the high court’s last “swing vote” on critical issues like women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality, it’s impossible to overstate how much is at stake with this nomination, Betz said in an email.
“We know that if Kavanaugh is confirmed that it won’t be long until a woman’s right to choose and the Affordable Care Act are gone,” Betz said.
Lawmakers also voiced their concerns.
“Whether or not the Supreme Court enforces the spirit of the words, ‘Equal Justice Under Law,’ is determined by the individuals who sit on that court,” said Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris. “Brett Kavanaugh represents a fundamental threat to that promise of equality. I will oppose his nomination.”
Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also opposed the nomination.
“One things already clear from his record, [Kavanaugh] can’t be trusted to safeguard rights for women, workers or to end the flow of corporate money to campaigns,” Gillibrand said.
After the announcement, Kavanaugh said that his judicial philosophy is straightforward.
“A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law,” Kavanaugh said. “A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”
In a statement about the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the NAACP said that the next Supreme Court justice will play an outsized role in determining whether African Americans move forward in our journey toward achieving full equality, whether we simply tread water for the next three decades, or whether we slide backward toward our former status as second-class citizens.
“Brett Kavanaugh is a dangerous ideologue whose extreme views on civil rights would solidify a far-right majority on the Supreme Court. Coming after Neil Gorsuch’s appointment, a Kavanaugh confirmation would re-make the Court in President Trump’s own image,” the NAACP statement said. “This prospect is unacceptable to the American people, and the NAACP is ready to lead the fight of a generation.”
The NAACP statement continued: “We will fight this Trump nomination with everything we’ve got. Our state conferences, branches and units are fully engaged to tell their Senators that our civil rights hang in the balance and that Kavanaugh must be defeated.”