Background

BRETT KAVANAUGH IS A THREAT TO OUR CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

 

Brett Kavanaugh was plucked from a toxic short list of individuals who met Trump’s extreme agenda – he would overturn Roe and undermine the Affordable Care Act. Earning a spot on this list of anti-civil and human rights all-stars required satisfying the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society. As a nominee from this list, Brett Kavanaugh passed Trump’s ideological litmus test as a person who, if confirmed, would vote to take away women’s control over their own bodies and to sabotage accessible health coverage for millions of people. Undermining the ACA would have a devastating impact on those with pre-existing conditions, people of color, women, people with disabilities, and millions of others for decades to come. Access to health care is a civil and human rights issue of profound importance.

It’s clear that Kavanaugh has an extensive record that merits close scrutiny. What we know so far about Kavanaugh’s record is that he has been a partisan political operative. But we need to know more. The American people and every Senator need to see Kavanaugh’s full record before a hearing is scheduled. We deserve to know who will sit on the highest court in the land — and whether he will uphold fairness and justice for everyone.

As the recent withdrawal of Ninth Circuit nominee Ryan Bounds shows, Senators must have time to thoroughly review a nominee’s full record. The Senate Democrats are right to not meet with Kavanaugh until they have assurances that Senate Republicans will not treat Kavanaugh’s White House records differently than Kagan’s White House records.

What we see from Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions is that he will protect the privileges of the wealthy and powerful, but not the constitutional rights of all Americans.  Throughout his tenure on the bench, he has consistently ruled against workers, discrimination victims, consumers, and the environment.

Kavanaugh will not be the independent voice we need to prevent abuses of power by the president. He would not serve as a much-needed check on the executive branch. He has said the president should have “absolute discretion” to determine whether and when to appoint a special counsel like Robert Mueller.  And he has said that special counsels should be “removable in the same manner as other high-level executive branch officials” – in other words, at the president’s prerogative. Kavanaugh has also said that a sitting president should not be criminally indicted, no matter what evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered.

 

 WHAT’S AT STAKE

The stakes of the Supreme Court vacancy are enormously high for the future of civil and human rights.

The Court plays a critical role as the backstop when other institutions fail to protect people’s civil and human rights.

Whether you care about access to health care, immigrant justice, LGBTQ rights, or criminal justice reform, the fate of them all hangs in the balance.

The issue most immediately under threat is access to health care, especially for women. During his campaign, Trump promised to appoint a justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade and dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

We cannot let President Trump rewrite the Constitution and roll back a century of progress on civil and human rights. This is not a hypothetical threat; it is real.

Recent decisions are a devastating reminder of what one Trump justice already brought us: diminished rights for working people, women’s access to safe health providers, religious freedom, fair elections, and access to voting rights.

Precisely because the stakes are so high, there should be no consideration for a Supreme Court nominee until the people have spoken in November. Senators need to put country over party must use every tool available to stop Trump’s plan to takeover the Supreme Court for the next 40 years.

The broad civil and human rights coalition is united in its commitment to fight for our rights. We will mobilize to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court from extremists who would turn back the clock. Senators must hear our voices and be an independent check on this president.

There is simply too much at stake to rush through such a consequential confirmation.

 

 WHAT DOES THE SUPREME COURT DO?

Engraved above the main entrance of the Supreme Court is its primary purpose: “Equal Justice Under Law.”

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Its justices are responsible for supporting and defending the Constitution and upholding our rights and freedoms.

The federal courts are a civil and human rights issue of profound importance because federal judges are charged with making decisions that have a direct impact on civil rights protections for all. Independent and fair courts are also a critical check on the other branches of government.

Lower federal courts – district and circuit courts – see thousands more cases than the Supreme Court. However, when there are dueling decisions or cases involving critical national issues, they are brought to the Supreme Court for the final say. Decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education and Obergefell v. Hodges dramatically impacted our society and safeguarded basic civil and human rights.

The president is responsible for nominating a Supreme Court justice when a vacancy occurs. The Senate is responsible for thoroughly vetting nominees to ensure they are fair and impartial. Their responsibilities cannot be overstated. Federal judges are appointed for life.

 

 RECENT DECISIONS

The Supreme Court this year has heard arguments in pivotal cases that will have major implications on civil and human rights.

Below are notable cases that the Court has recently decided.

Trump v. Hawaii considered the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. Five justices on the Supreme Court endorsed a regression of freedom and liberty, by permitting a Muslim ban that reflects one of the most xenophobic, nativist chapters in our nation’s history. Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and the Supreme Court’s decision conflict with a simple, yet important truth: Indiscriminate profiling based on nationality or religion does not make our nation stronger or more prosperous – it makes us weaker.

Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute considered whether voter purging is constitutional. Five Justices on the Supreme Court undermined the fundamental right to vote by making it easier for states to suppress the vote. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires states to maintain accurate voter rolls but also to ensure that voters are not improperly purged. The Supreme Court’s decision validated an effort in Ohio that allows voters who chose not to vote to be purged from the rolls if they don’t return a post card asking them to confirm their residence. This decision ultimately allows states to obstruct countless eligible voters from participating in our country’s electoral system and will encourage other states to follow suit with restrictive voting practices.

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered whether discrimination by businesses against LGBTQ individuals is lawful. The Supreme Court issued a narrow ruling limiting its decision to the specific facts of the case. Importantly, the Court did not rule that the Constitution creates a right to discriminate. The longstanding principle that business owners cannot deny equal access to goods and services remains the law of the land.

Gill v. Whitford considered the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin. The Supreme Court failed to provide clear guidance when it declined to strike down Wisconsin’s voting map that severely disadvantaged Democratic voters.  Every American has the right to a fair vote, and legislators who draw maps to rig our elections to favor one political party over another undermine our democracy. As the case returns to the district court for further consideration, we will continue to urge states to create fair and independent redistricting commissions to prevent partisan gerrymandering so that all voices can be heard.

WHAT WE WANT

  • The Supreme Court is the ultimate authority in interpreting our laws and Constitution and protecting our rights and freedoms. Every justice should honor that responsibility and be committed to maintaining equal justice under law and protecting the rights of everyone, not just the wealthy and the powerful.
  • A Supreme Court justice should be fair and independent. He or she must understand and respect the separation of powers and independent role the federal judiciary plays in our democracy. Every justice must be independent from the other two branches of government to ensure the Supreme Court’s impartiality in resolving cases involving the constitutional authority of the president or Congress. The Court deserves a justice with a demonstrated record of fairness and independence.
  • The Supreme Court must protect and promote the rights of all. Every justice should treat everyone who walks through the courthouse doors and all who are impacted by their decisions fairly. Every justice should have a record that demonstrates their fairness, integrity, and temperament are deserving of a lifetime appointment to our highest court.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Every senator gets to vote on whether or not to confirm a nominee to the federal bench, so make sure they know where you stand. Call your senator to demand a Supreme Court nominee who would be a fair-minded justice that cares about protecting the rights of all.

Timeline

Jun 2018
Jul 2018
Jul 2018
June 272018

After over 3 decades of serving on the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy announces his retirement.

July 092018

President Trump announces D.C. Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court nominee.

July 312018

Effective date of Justice Kennedy’s retirement.