Civil Rights Leaders Discuss Supreme Court Nomination

Courts News 07.9,18

WASHINGTON – Following President Trump’s announcement of his intent to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States today, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Alliance for Justice, and People For the American Way hosted a telephone press briefing with other civil rights leaders to discuss the significance of his pick and the need for an independent and fair-minded justice. The speakers emphasized what’s at stake with this nominee who will overturn Roe. v. Wade and undermine the Affordable Care Act.

A recording of the press briefing can be found here.

“Brett Kavanaugh is a direct threat to our civil and human rights and is unfit to serve on our nation’s highest court. Earning a spot on this list of anti-civil and human rights all-stars required satisfying the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society and passing Trump’s ideological litmus tests,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “Trump promised that, if confirmed, his nominee would overturn Roe v. Wade, and undermine the Affordable Care Act, which 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. Our civil and human rights hang in the balance with this Supreme Court nomination. Senators must put country over party to protect their constituents, the Constitution, and civil and human rights by rejecting this extreme nomination.”

“Tonight, we will not accept the Donald Trump vision of America or his plan for the Supreme Court, with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. We will not accept a vision of America in which women, and people of color, and LGBTQ Americans, and people with disabilities, and workers, and immigrants, and people of all faiths do not enjoy full participation in our society and full and equal rights. We know this fight will be hard, but it’s a fight we can win, because the values of this country are on our side,” said Nan Aron, president and CEO of Alliance for Justice (AFJ).

“Confirming Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court would roll back the clock on rulings that protect women, people of color, workers and the LGBTQ community,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “We’ve already seen far too many rulings designed to protect the interests of corporations and the wealthy above the rights of all Americans. Giving a narrow-minded elitist like Judge Kavanaugh a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court would open the floodgate to more and worse.”

“With this nomination, women’s freedom to make decisions about our own bodies is at stake. Judge Kavanaugh voted to allow religious beliefs to override an individual’s right to insurance coverage of birth control. He also issued a ruling to allow the government to continue blocking a young immigrant woman from accessing abortion care. And it is no small matter that it was after this decision that his name first appeared on Trump’s short list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Too much is at stake for the Senate to just allow this nominee to go through,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of National Women’s Law Center.

“The National Disability Rights Network shares the concerns of the civil rights community about the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court,” said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker. “Disability is a condition that can affect all Americans, across all races, genders, sexual orientation, religion, and economic status. Any weakening of the laws that protect Americans from discrimination and ensure equal opportunity would negatively affect individuals with disabilities as well.”

“We have litigated racial discrimination issues at the Supreme Court since 1940, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation could transform that institution in a way that we have never seen before, jeopardizing the progress we have achieved over the last 78 years,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “The very integrity of our justice system and the rule of law are at stake—and we cannot afford to approach this nomination as business as usual. Senators must critically evaluate Judge Kavanaugh’s record to determine whether he would defend the hard-won rights of African Americans, women, and members of the LGBT community or rollback critical civil rights protections.”

“With his nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump has doubled down on his rhetoric and policies that tilt our country further towards billionaires and greedy CEOs, and away from all working people, whether they are white, black or brown,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “He has sided time and again against working people, including upholding Department of Defense regulations that stripped collective bargaining rights from thousands of employees, and criticizing rules protecting workers from dangerous conditions as ‘paternalistic.’ Our healthcare is not safe either, as Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination was pre-approved by an extreme group that wants to repeal our healthcare with no replacement. For these reasons and more, SEIU members are going to rise up, just as we did during the healthcare debate, to make clear that we are watching and will hold accountable anyone who supports this nomination.”

“Planned Parenthood is unambiguously opposed to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. We already know how he would vote when it comes to upholding the precedent of Roe v. Wade, because Donald Trump told us.  Judge Kavanaugh has already ruled to restrict access to safe, legal abortion. Just last year, he used his judicial power to prevent a young undocumented woman in US custody from accessing the safe, legal abortion she wanted.  That’s why we will be mobilizing all 11 million of our supporters. We know millions of people will join us to protect these fundamental rights. We refuse to live in an America where our children and grandchildren have fewer rights than we have today,” said Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).

“Trump is picking the fight that even Mitch McConnell warned him against,” said Chris Kang, chief counsel of Demand Justice. “Brett Kavanaugh has criticized Chief Justice Roberts for upholding the Affordable Care Act and praised then-Justice Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe v. Wade. He believes that the president is above the law and the full extent of his views on executive power are hidden behind more than a million documents from his time at the White House. A majority of the Senate can—and must—oppose this extreme nomination.”

“Kavanaugh would bring all of Trump’s worst qualities to the Supreme Court for decades to come. In a disturbing echo of Trump’s policies toward immigrant families, Kavanaugh tried to force a detained immigrant woman to carry her pregnancy against her will, using anti-choice activist code of ‘abortion on demand’ in his official written opinion. Kavanaugh has proven himself to be a political operative when it comes to undermining the Affordable Care Act through frivolous cases and opinions. He has also written with shocking deference to presidential power and immunity, which raises the alarming but wholly legitimate question of whether this is one more effort by President Trump to obstruct justice for himself and his associates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was right: Kavanaugh’s paper trail is a horror show and flatly disqualifies him,” said Miguel Rodriguez, senior vice president for government affairs of the Center for American Progress.

“Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is irresponsible and dangerous. He will undermine LGBTQ equality, women’s reproductive rights and affordable healthcare,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “This is not the fair-minded constitutionalist worthy of replacing Justice Kennedy. The U.S. Senate needs to exercise its constitutional responsibility and reject this nominee.” 

About The Leadership Conference
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit 

About Alliance for Justice
Alliance for Justice believes that all Americans have the right to secure justice in the courts and to have their voices heard when government makes decisions that affect their lives. We are a national association of 130 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society.

About People For the American Way
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

About NWLC
The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity.  The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.  For more information on the Center, visit:

About National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.

About the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF)
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multidisciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

About SEIU
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, in the public sector and in property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy. 

About Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA)
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

About Demand Justice
Demand Justice—which just launched in May to help prepare progressives for exactly this scenario of a Supreme Court fight—announced it plans to spend at least $5 million to oppose Trump’s nominee. Demand Justice, formed by veterans of Capitol Hill, the White House and the Clinton and Obama campaigns, hopes to become a permanent fixture motivating progressive voters on issues related to the federal judiciary while influencing the Senate on judicial nominees.

About Center for American Progress
The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the conversation, but to change the country.

About HRC
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.