If President Donald Trump’s last Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, offers any indication, his latest selection in Brett Kavanaugh will provide little or no benefits to the civil rights community, says National Urban League President Marc Morial following the announcement of the president’s high court nominee.
Morial does not stand in isolation, as many others have echoed his assessment, calling on the U.S. 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 serve as the core of arguments for those who oppose his appointment.
While he hasn’t expressed outright opposition to 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 wrote 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 important to minority groups and communities of color, Kavanaugh has issued controversial rulings on religious liberty and the second amendment.
In America, the U.S. Supreme Court remains the final stop for justice in that it conveys the final word with its rulings affecting the entire nation and her citizens because every state must follow the decisions of the Court.
“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.”
Civil rights leader, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Kavanaugh’s selection will only aide in Trump’s already destructive presidency.
“If there’s one things this year’s Supreme Court term has shown us, it’s the difference just one justice can make in the progress of our nation. President Trump’s pick to replace Anthony Kennedy ensures the Supreme Court will be able to further Trump’s destructive agenda for decades to come,” Sharpton said.
The National Action Network leader also cautioned those who might inaccurately shrug off the selection as a “middle of the road pick.”
“Don’t be fooled. On every issue Kavanaugh has proven to be an ideologue who will ignore our rights; working to take away a woman’s right to choose; challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act that has benefited millions of Americans and ruling against workers and consumers at every turn. This is a fight for the soul of our country … his confirmation would be a disastrous attack on basic human rights,” Sharpton said.
Billionaire hedge fund manager and political activist Tom Steyer, who runs the California-based group “Need to Impeach,” has urged all of 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 several of Kavanaugh’s previous opinions.
To that end, the recent Supreme Court nominee has suggested that Congress pass a law barring sitting presidents from criminal prosecution and investigation, personal civil suits and questioning from criminal attorneys. He further claims that presidents may disregard laws they consider unconstitutional, despite what the courts say.
“The Senate is the only check on the Supreme Court. It does not have to rubber-stamp the president’s pick,” Steyer said.
Kavanaugh’s track record shows he’s comfortable using his position to further the agenda of fringe-right groups who back him, according to Steyer.
The Georgetown-educated jurist who also teaches at Harvard Law School, earlier surmised that both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the District’s ban on semi-automatic rifles to be unconstitutional. He’s also attempted to roll back President Obama’s greenhouse gas regulations.
“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.
Ben Betz, the Digital Advocacy Director for the left-leaning, District-based group, People for the American Way, referred to Kavanaugh as “not just your run-of-the-mill, narrow-minded, elitist judge.”
“He is a dangerous extremist who would do severe harm, dragging the Court far, far to the right and turning back the clock on Americans’ fundamental rights,” Betz said.
While Justice Kennedy, whom Kavanaugh would replace, was the high court’s last “swing vote” on critical issues like choice 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,” he said.
Kavanaugh essentially wants to undo the “New Deal” and embraces a legal philosophy that would lead to the dismantling of most of the legal rights and protections that Americans depend on; the ability of the government to provide health care like Medicaid and Medicare; protections for workers, consumers, and the environment; protections against discrimination, Betz continued.
Lawmakers also voice 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.”
Similarly, Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand opposes the nomination.
“One thing’s 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.
When Trump announced Kavanaugh, he claimed to be keeping with President Ronald Reagan’s legacy of not asking about a nominee’s personal opinions.
“What matters is not a judge’s political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require,” Trump said.
Kavanaugh offers that his judicial philosophy has always been straightforward.
“A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law,” he said. “A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history, tradition and precedent.”
While it is the duty of a president to nominate justices to fill vacancies on the court, the U.S. Senate cannot be required to act on or confirm the president’s nominee – a scenario that played out during Obama’s final year in office when he selected Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia.
“The Supreme Court plays a key role as a backstop when other mechanisms for justice fall short or fail to protect people’s civil and human rights and it is unconscionable that this president, with a cloud of criminality hovering over him, would be allowed to stack the bench in his favor, effectively becoming judge and juror,” Morial said.
“The Framers of the Constitution expected the members of the U.S. Senate to exercise their best judgment regarding lifetime appointments to the nation’s highest court — not to play games or politics, which is what the president is doing here,” he added.
Democrat leaders in the Senate have vowed to fight the nomination.
“The ramifications of this battle will last a generation or more. I’m going to fight this nomination with everything I’ve got,” New York Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the steps of the Supreme Court.
“Here is a memo to the American people. The question we’re asked most often is, ‘can you stop him?'” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
“The answer is, Republicans control the Senate [but] now is the time for Americans to rise up … if America is heard, if those voices are real, we can win this battle.”
To defeat the nomination, Schumer would need to both win over Republican votes and keep every member of his own caucus on board, including several red state Democrats up for re-election, according to reports.
One of those Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, said he planned to do a “deep dive” on the nominee’s record.
“I’ll have a look at all his findings and records and everything he has ruled on, all his writings and everything. So, it’s a deep dive we have to do. I think that’s our responsibility,” he said.