The International Women’s Health Coalition joined more than 200 US and international organizations opposing the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the position of Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. An excerpt of the letter is listed below. The full version, with complete footnotes, is also available on this page in PDF format.

 


 

September 3, 2018

Dear Senator,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promoting and protecting the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and more than 180 undersigned organizations, we write to express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The fact that President Trump is now an unindicted co-conspirator to federal crimes committed to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election calls into question the legitimacy of his nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will likely be called on to resolve issues related to the extent to which President Trump can be investigated, subpoenaed, indicted, or prosecuted, and Judge Kavanaugh’s longstanding advocacy for presidential immunity from criminal or civil liability renders him incapable of being impartial in such matters. As Ranking Member Feinstein observed at the August 23, 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee meeting: “History will not look kindly on rushing through a Supreme Court nominee chosen by a president facing significant legal liability and seeking to obstruct a criminal investigation of his wrongdoing.” Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing should not go forward.

Furthermore, there should be no hearing for Judge Kavanaugh until all of his Bush White House records are turned over to the Senate and the American people. Defying decades of Senate tradition and precedent, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley has rejected bipartisan cooperation, disregarded the neutral review role historically played by the National Archives, and established a corrupt records review process led by a partisan lawyer who once served as Judge Kavanaugh’s deputy in the Bush White House. Indeed, the National Archives has noted that such a process “has never happened before” and that the documents released by Chairman Grassley thus far “do not represent the National Archives.”1

As a result, the Senate and the American people have had access to only a fraction of Judge Kavanaugh’s White House records, and virtually none of his records from his service as the White House Staff Secretary for President George W. Bush. When Justice Elena Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2010, by contrast, over 99 percent of her Clinton White House records were made public. As Chairman Grassley stated on June 15, 2010 with respect to the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court: “In order for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility of advise and consent, we must get all of her documents from the Clinton Library and have enough time to analyze them so we can determine whether she should be a Justice.”2 Chairman Grassley has adopted a partisan and troubling double standard.

The chairman’s politicized, heavy-handed decision to request none of Judge Kavanaugh’s Staff Secretary records is particularly galling, given that Judge Kavanaugh himself has said that his three years as Staff Secretary have affected his work as a judge. In a 2016 interview with Marquette Lawyer, Judge Kavanaugh stated: “People sometimes ask what prior legal experience has been most useful for me as a judge. And I say, ‘I certainly draw on all of them,’ but I also say that my five-and-a-half years at the White House and especially my three years as staff secretary for President George W. Bush were the most interesting and informative for me.”3

The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of our laws and Constitution, and its rulings dramatically impact our rights and freedoms. Every Supreme Court vacancy is significant, but the stakes could not be higher in deciding who will replace Justice Kennedy – who served as the deciding vote in nearly all the momentous cases of the past dozen years. Critical civil and human rights issues hang in the balance, including access to health care for millions of Americans, the ability of women to control their own bodies, voting rights, labor rights, economic security, rights of immigrants and persons with disabilities, LGBTQ equality, equal opportunity and affirmative action, environmental protections, and whether the judiciary will serve as a constitutional check on a reckless president.

Judge Kavanaugh’s 12-year record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as well as his known writings, speeches, and legal career, demonstrate that if he were confirmed to the Supreme Court, he would be the fifth and decisive vote to undermine many of our core rights and legal protections. In case after case, he has ruled against individuals and the environment in favor of corporations, the wealthy, and the powerful. He has advanced extreme legal theories to overturn longstanding precedent to diminish the power of federal agencies to help people. And he has demonstrated an expansive view of presidential power that includes his belief that presidents should not be subject to civil suits or criminal investigations while in office despite what misconduct may have occurred. Many of our organizations opposed Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit, 4 and our fears and concerns have been realized. Judge Kavanaugh has not served as a neutral and fair-minded jurist. He has served as a conservative ideologue who lacks the impartiality and independence necessary to sit on the highest court in the land.

Moreover, Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was the product of a deeply flawed and biased process in which President Trump outsourced his constitutional duties to two right-wing special interest groups: the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. These extremist organizations preapproved candidates, including Judge Kavanaugh, based on the dangerous and unprecedented litmus tests that President Trump put forward as a presidential candidate. In a 2016 presidential debate, he said that his Supreme Court appointees would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. He said: “If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that is really what will happen. That will happen automatically in my opinion. Because I am putting pro-life justices on the Court.”5 He also indicated he had a litmus test on the Affordable Care Act, stating in a February 2016 interview: “We’re going to have a very strong test…. I’m disappointed in Roberts because he gave us Obamacare, he had two chances to end Obamacare, he should have ended it by every single measurement and he didn’t do it, so that was a very disappointing one.”6

Judge Kavanaugh has passed these litmus tests, or he wouldn’t have been nominated. If confirmed, he would vote to undermine women’s control over their own bodies and sabotage accessible health coverage for millions of people, disproportionately impacting women, people of color, people with disabilities, and low-income families.

The confirmation process for Judge Kavanaugh should not be rushed to fulfill a campaign promise or to reward elite Washington, D.C. interest groups or donors. Each individual Senator has an obligation to independently review his entire record, a significant portion of which has not yet been disclosed. It is a dereliction of Senators’ constitutional duty to simply allow one’s political party to determine approval of such an impactful appointment before that record is public and reviewed. The American people are represented in this crucial process in the Senate. The independent vetting that Supreme Court candidates receive has long been rigorous and this should be no exception. Justice Kennedy himself was not the first nominee to the seat he is vacating. Two nominees before him failed because of the Senate’s role, and the nation was better for it.

Brett Kavanaugh:

  • Sought to Undermine Access to Health Care
  • Hostile to Women’s Reproductive Freedom
  • Restricted Voting Rights
  • Opposed Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
  • Dismissive of Discrimination Claims
  • Hostile to Workers’ Rights
  • Disregard for Disability Rights
  • Anti-Immigrant Views
  • Troubling Views on Presidential Power
  • Undermined Environmental Protections
  • Opposed to Common-Sense Gun Safety Laws
  • Pro-Government Bias in Criminal Cases
  • Troubling Views on Money in Politics
  • Sought to Undermine Church-State Separation in Education
  • Ideological Jobs and Affiliations
  • Ties to Judge Kozinski

Judge Kavanaugh is an ideological extremist with a clear partisan agenda. He lacks the fair-mindedness necessary to serve a lifetime appointment at the highest level of the branch of government charged with making the ultimate decisions about our rights, freedoms, liberties, and the meaning of our laws and Constitution. Chairman Grassley has implemented a biased and unscrupulous process to review Judge Kavanaugh’s Bush White House records, which has denied the Senate and the American people the opportunity to learn about the nominee’s full record. As ten members of the Senate Judiciary Committee forcefully wrote in a recent letter: “[T]here is no legitimate reason for the Senate to rush this nomination and fail to perform its constitutional duty. This is especially true, when the President, who faces significant legal jeopardy, chose the one candidate who has consistently and clearly expressed doubt as to whether a sitting president can be investigated or indicted for criminal wrongdoing.”98
In light of the astonishing and unprecedented circumstances facing this nation, the Senate should not move forward with the consideration of Judge Kavanaugh for a lifetime position on the Supreme Court.

Sincerely,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
9to5, National Association of Working Women
A Better Balance
Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago
Advocates for Youth
African American Policy Forum
Alliance for Justice
American Atheists
American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of Teachers
American Humanist Association
American Society on Aging
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans for Financial Reform
Americans United for Separation of Church & State
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Black Women’s Roundtable
Business & Professional Women of Colorado
Business and Professional Women of Denver (BPW Denver)
Caring Across Generations
Center for American Progress
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Community Change Action (CCCA)
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
Center for Popular Democracy
Center for Public Representation
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
CLASP
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
Community Catalyst
Dallas Fort Worth Foster Parent Association
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Justice
Demos
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Earthjustice
Economic Policy Institute Policy Center
Equal Justice Society
Equal Rights Advocates
Equality California
Equality Federation
Equality Maine
Equality New Mexico
Equality North Carolina
Every Voice
Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM)
Fair Wisconsin
Faith in Action
Faith in Public Life
Family Equality Council
Family Values @ Work
Farmworker Justice
Feminist Majority
Fuse Washington
Gallatin Valley Friends of Cuba, Montana
Generation Progress
Global Justice Institute, Metropolitan Community Churches
GLSEN
Government Information Watch
GreenLatinos
Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights
Herd on the Hill
Hip Hop Caucus
Hispanic Federation
Human Rights Campaign
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
Indivisible
International Association of Women in Radio and Television-USA
International Women’s Health Coalition
Jobs WIth Justice
Justice in Aging
Lambda Legal
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of Conservation Voters
Legal Aid at Work
LULAC #1191
Main Street Alliance
Maine Conservation Voters
MALDEF
MANA, A National Latina Organization
Mi Familia Vota
MomsRising
Montana Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
Montgomery County (MD) Civil Rights Coalition
MoveOn
Muslim Advocates
Muslim Public Affairs Council
NAACP
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Abortion Federation
National Action Network
National Association of Human Rights Workers
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
National Bar Association
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council on Independent Living
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Equality Action Team (NEAT)
National Federation of Business and Professional Women
National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs-NYC (NFBPWC-NYC)
National Health Law Program
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Immigration Law Center
National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH)
National Institute of Reproductive Health
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Urban League
National Women’s Health Network
National Women’s Law Center
National Workrights Institute
NC League of Conservation Voters
Nevada Conservation League
New Ways Ministry
NFBPC EL PASO WEST
NFBPWC
North Carolina Justice Center
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
One Million Kids for Equality
Pantsuit Nation
People For the American Way
PFLAG National
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
PolicyLink
Population Connection Action Fund
Pride at Work
Progress Florida
Progress Virginia
Progressive Turnout Project
ProgressOhio
Protect Our Care
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Religious Institute
Reproaction
Secular Coalition for America
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Sierra Club
South Asian Network
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Southern Poverty Law Center
Southwest PA National Organization for Women
State Innovation Exchange (SIX)
The Immigration Hub
The Links, Incorporated
The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
The Washington Bar Associaton Young Lawyers Division
The Workmen’s Circle
UltraViolet
United State of Women
United Steelworkers
United We Dream
US Women and Cuba Collaboration
Violence Policy Center
Voices for Progress
Voto Latino
West Pinellas National Organization for Women (NOW) Florida
Women Employed
Women’s Law Project
Woodhull Freedom Foundation
World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law
YWCA USA