We are deeply concerned by President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh’s appointment would shift the balance of the court far to the right and have profound implications for the rights of women, low-wage workers, and other vulnerable groups to make their own choices about their families and their futures without jeopardizing their financial stability.
President Trump vowed to appoint a justice who would overturn the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, in which the Court recognized women’s constitutionally protected right to obtain an abortion and thus control their bodies and their lives. Roe is the law of the land and has been reaffirmed multiple times, most recently in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. But Judge Kavanaugh’s record indicates hostility to abortion rights. In a recent Jane Doe case, Judge Kavanaugh sided with the Trump administration in its effort to block an undocumented young woman from obtaining an abortion. When the full D.C. Circuit Court reversed his decision, he dissented, writing derisively, “The majority apparently thinks that the Government must allow unlawful immigrant minors to have an immediate abortion on demand.” As states like Ohio and Mississippi pass increasingly restrictive abortion laws, the ongoing battle over Roe will likely come to the Supreme Court in the near future. If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, women’s right to access abortion will be in peril.
Judge Kavanaugh’s record on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is also troubling. He dissented from the majority in Seven-Sky v. Holder, which upheld the ACA’s individual mandate as constitutional. He also argued in his dissent in Priests for Life v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services that the ACA’s process for requesting a religious exemption to the requirement that employers provide contraception coverage infringes on the rights of religious employers. The ACA guarantees access to health care, including contraception, to millions of people who would not otherwise be able to afford it, including women, caregivers, low-wage workers, and people of color. As the ACA undergoes continued attacks from opponents, it is essential that the Court protect workers’ access to a full range of health care for themselves and their families.
The Court has already eroded workers’ rights this term in Epic Systems v. Lewis and Janus v. AFSCME, and Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment would likely continue that disturbing trend. In Verizon New England Inc. v. NLRB, he upheld an arbitration panel’s decision allowing a union to waive workers’ rights to picket. Judge Kavanaugh also sided with employers over workers in Venetian Casino Resort v. NLRB and in his dissent in Rattigan v. Holder.
The decisions of the Supreme Court affect us all, while women and working families, among other vulnerable groups, stand to lose established rights in employment, reproductive decision-making, and other areas. We urge the Senate to carefully evaluate Judge Kavanaugh’s record on these and other issues while determining whether he is fit to sit on our nation’s highest court. The future of our most deeply cherished rights is at stake.