#SaveSCOTUS: What’s At Stake for Young Feminists?

By Sachi Shastri

Justice Kennedy’s retirement sent waves of shock across the United States and with it, activists scrambling for a plan. This Supreme Court vacancy is particularly volatile as Trump’s choice to replace Kennedy will put many feminist issues – reproductive rights, immigrant justice, gun control, LGBTQ+ rights, the list goes on – at risk.

When Trump was first given the opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court Justice, he promised to pack the Court with anti-choice judges – a promise he kept with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch. Earlier this week, Trump announced his second Supreme Court nomination, federal appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh: another judge who would threaten Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh was chosen from a list of possible nominees composed by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, two organizations determined to shift the Supreme Court towards conservative extremism as much as they can. While any nominee of Trump’s would lock the Court in a 5-4 conservative majority, Kavanaugh, a former clerk for Justice Kennedy and a key player in the Bill Clinton investigation, has an extensively conservative resume that positions him as a threat to young feminists nationwide. Let’s take a look at his resume:

Kavanaugh is anti-abortion.

Kavanaugh has allowed his religious, hyper-conservative political views to shroud his opinions in multiple court cases. His most salient attack on reproductive rights can be found within his dissent in the Jane Doe case, in which he blocked a young, undocumented teenager who was being held in immigration custody from accessing an abortion until she could find a sponsor. He felt that by allowing her access to abortion, the government would be ignoring its “permissible interest in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion.” While he was ultimately overruled by the full D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh’s blatant attack on reproductive rights cannot be ignored nor tolerated.

Kavanaugh actually doesn’t care about healthcare at all.

Not only has Kavanaugh harmed women’s access to healthcare, but he has also taken stabs at the Affordable Care Act.

  • 2011: As part of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, he offered his dissent in the SCOTUS ruling that the ACA was constitutional.
  • 2015: He dissented the decision to rehear the ruling against the religious-liberty challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate. He cited that by requiring religious organizations to submit a form that would offer contraceptives to their employees or otherwise pay the penalty, the government is infringing upon the religious freedoms and constitutional rights of that organization.

The entirety of the ACA might come under attack of the higher courts soon, as 20 states have taken to the Texas federal courts to assert that without the individual mandate – which was repealed in 2017 –  the entirety of the ACA is inoperative. With Kavanaugh on the Court, there is a likely chance that the ACA will be repealed and the millions who rely on it will be left without healthcare coverage.

Kavanaugh believes money is more important than our environment.

Environmental protections also face a serious threat under a Court with Kavanaugh on it. In 2012, while the D.C. Circuit Court upheld the greenhouse gas regulations imposed during the Obama administration, Kavanaugh dissented, citing that the Environmental Protection Agency had overreached its authority by going beyond the limitations set by Congress. Kavanaugh again dissented in the 2014 case of White Stallion Energy Center LLC v. EPA. He argued that the EPA must take monetary costs into account when imposing regulations on companies and stated that even while the Environmental Protection Agency might find that the benefits of following environmental regulations might outweigh the monetary costs, those costs should still be taken into account.

Kavanaugh couldn’t care less about the rights of workers.

If that wasn’t enough, labor rights could also take a blow with Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Court. In 2016, Kavanaugh offered his opinion on the Verizon New England v. NLRB case, stating that employers have the right to require employees to waive their rights to picket. Most recently, in the 2018 Supreme Court case of Epic Systems v. Lewis, Kavanaugh again sided with employers. He stated that as a condition of employment, employers could deny employees from participating in class-action lawsuits.

What/who else does Kavanaugh hate?

Kavanaugh also poses a threat to many other issues impacting young feminists, including (but not limited to) gun control, net neutrality, and LGBTQ+ rights:

  • In The District of Columbia v. Heller case, Kavanaugh likened the ban on assault rifles to a ban on free speech. He argued that because semi-automatic handguns are commonly used for self-defense and hunting and have not traditionally been banned, that they are Constitutionally protected.
  • Kavanaugh is also against net neutrality, believing that the policy violates internet providers’ free speech rights.
  • Kavanaugh’s religious views and sympathy towards free speech “rights” are cause for concern to anyone in the LGBTQ+ community, and his lack of voice or support regarding the community leave many rightfully questioning his position on queer issues. More likely than not, he will pose a significant threat.

It is clear that the nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States would endanger some of the most basic rights and protections that the Constitution and established precedent gives to U.S. citizens. Kavanaugh’s appointment would not only be detrimental to our rights right now: he would have a stake in our liberties for generations to come. Feminists – young feminists especially – cannot afford the shift of the Court through the appointment of extremist anti-feminist Brett Kavanaugh. Every Senate vote counts in the fight to #StopKavanaugh. We must save the Supreme Court.

Wondering what you can do to help #StopKavanaugh?

Call 202-902-7129 and tell your senators to refuse to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.

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