Every term, critical cases concerning the interpretation and application of the Constitution and federal civil rights laws come before the Supreme Court. On July 9, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit to the United States Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is intended to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers Committee) employs a rigorous standard with two distinct components in evaluating nominees to the Supreme Court: (1) exceptional competence to serve on the Court, and (2) a profound respect for the importance of protecting the civil rights afforded by the Constitution and the nation’s civil rights laws.
After reviewing the currently available record of Judge Kavanaugh, we have concluded there is sufficient cause in the record to strongly oppose his confirmation. Our Report on the Nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court analyzes his record on issues of affirmative action, criminal justice, economic justice, environmental justice, housing, and voting to draw this conclusion.
“After a employing a rigorous standard in our careful examination of Judge Kavanaugh’s record both on and off the bench, with a focus on the implications that this nomination will have on African-American communities across the country, we conclude that Judge Kavanaugh demonstrates views that undermine the core civil rights principles for which we have long advocated,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “He is someone who, if confirmed, would dramatically alter the balance of the Court in ways that will prove harmful for African Americans and minority communities for generations to come. We also remain deeply concerned that this hearing is proceeding prematurely, as hundreds of thousands of documents that might shed more light on his civil rights views have not yet been disclosed.”
The Lawyers’ Committee believes Judge Kavanaugh satisfies the first prong of our standard.
In applying the second prong of this standard, the Lawyers’ Committee requires a demonstrated respect for the importance of protecting civil rights based on authored opinions, statements, and articles. Judge Kavanaugh’s record raises serious concerns that he is predisposed to side with employers and business interests in disputes with employees and consumers, with law enforcement at the expense of defendants’ constitutional rights, and against administrative agencies. In addition, his record also raises concerns about his positions on voting rights, reproductive rights, marriage equality and other areas of core concern to our focus on issues involving civil rights. Finally, he appears unwilling to commit to ensuring that the Judicial Branch serves as an effective check against overreaching and abuses of power by the Executive Branch. Therefore, because Judge Kavanaugh fails to satisfy the second prong of our evaluation, the Lawyers’ Committee strongly opposes this nomination.
The Lawyers’ Committee will continue its research into Judge Kavanaugh’s record, recognizing that a critical amount of material remains unavailable at this time. We believe it is of the utmost importance that all documents pertaining to Kavanaugh’s service in the George W. Bush White House and in the Starr Office of Independent Counsel be released.
It is of the utmost importance that the Senate Judiciary Committee thoroughly examine the nominee’s judicial philosophy – particularly on issues relating to civil rights, including voting rights; racial and economic justice, including reproductive justice and employment discrimination; affirmative action; fair housing; environmental justice and criminal justice.
The Lawyers’ Committee looks forward to working with the Committee to ensure that a full examination takes place and, based upon the record, we may supplement the information shared in this report.
To read the report, click here.
For more information, contact: Derrick Robinson at 202-662-8317 or [email protected]