On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. His name is Brett Kavanaugh, and he represents one of the gravest dangers to civil rights in decades.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation could lead to a rollback of our hard-won progress on issues like workers’ rights and women’s reproductive rights. So it’s no surprise that Republicans have rolled out the red carpet for him.
For years, Republicans have lobbied aggressively and strategically to get conservative jurists appointed throughout the country. They’ve loaded courts at every level with judges who would support their extreme views on everything from gun rights to campaign finance rules to abortion laws — judges they could trust to gut unions, uphold voter suppression laws, and oppose LGBTQ equality.
But perhaps most importantly, they’ve used these Supreme Court fights to energize and mobilize their base. Indeed, this was the deal made by the religious right in lining up behind Trump. It’s why he promised to name only jurists who would overturn Roe v. Wade to the bench and subsequently created a shortlist of 25 Supreme Court candidates handpicked by right-wing groups — a list of judges who were sure to rule conservatively on a host of social justice issues.
Now, nearly two years into this disastrous administration, the Senate is poised to start confirmation hearings for one of those choices: Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation would threaten rights and freedoms that women have fought for over the last 100 years – and women of color stand to lose the most. Just look at Kavanaugh’s record. He dissented in a D.C. Circuit decision that recognized the right of a 17-year old undocumented immigrant to obtain an abortion at her own expense. In that dissent, Kavanaugh argued, “the Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life” and “refraining from facilitating an abortion.”
This is the man on the verge of becoming the swing vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and strip women of our constitutional right to make decisions about our own bodies, our own families, and our own futures.
Kavanaugh’s condescending paternalism toward women and girls is a theme throughout his decisions. In another dissent, he suggested employers should be allowed to deny ACA-mandated coverage to their female employees, including no-pay birth control coverage.
Kavanaugh has issued similarly troubling decisions in cases concerning voting rights and workers’ rights. He upheld a restrictive voter ID law in South Carolina, despite no evidence of voter fraud and explicit evidence that the law was racially motivated to disenfranchise African American voters. He has all but shown that he would continue the Supreme Court’s recent jurisprudence diluting the Voting Rights Act.
In Kavanaugh’s opinions on the right to unionize, on the right to picket, and on the right to be protected from accidents in the workplace, he has consistently ruled against workers. These decisions disproportionately affect women and other more vulnerable workers, who historically have less power in the workplace.
A man who would use his Supreme Court seat to take away rights from women, workers, and American voters, especially in communities of color, has no business anywhere near the highest bench.
Since Trump announced Kavanaugh’s nomination, we’ve seen a groundswell of opposition across the country. Grassroots organizers, civil rights leaders, and women’s rights organizations have mobilized to stop the Senate from confirming Kavanaugh. As groups like Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Indivisible, Color of Change, Moveon.org, and so many others have shown, the stakes have never been higher.
Now it’s up to us to beat Republicans at their own game. We have to mobilize around this issue and continue showing our senators we object to this nomination. We have to vote against extremist judicial appointments and fight like hell to prevent Brett Kavanaugh from ever being seated on the Supreme Court.
And we have to turn the grassroots energy we’ve seen throughout this fight into votes at the ballot box in November and in 2020.
As a woman, a person of color, and a career labor and civil rights lawyer, I know how much we have to lose with this nominee. This confirmation process could decide our country’s direction for years to come on issues that matter to millions of families.
Our future is at stake. Our children’s future is at stake. We need everyone in this fight.
Seema Nanda currently serves as CEO of the Democratic National Committee.