We are in the midst of the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. This lifetime appointment will greatly impact the lives of every Missourian for decades to come. Our constitutional rights, including access to abortion, birth control, health care, and the right to live free of discrimination are on the line. Most of us don’t have the time to watch hours of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, so I want to share my perspective as a lawyer with experience working for an elected official and a lifelong Missourian.
The Supreme Court has established an unbroken line of precedent – most recently in the 2016 case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt — that people have a constitutional right to decide for themselves whether to continue a pregnancy or have an abortion. If Judge Kavanaugh is given a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, the future of this half-century of unbroken precedent will be in his hands.
During the confirmation hearings, Judge Kavanaugh was given at least 12 opportunities to tell us whether Roe v. Wade was correctly decided or whether there is a constitutional right to an abortion, and he danced around it every time.
As a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law and a lawyer practicing in Missouri for seven years, my experience tells me that the best way to know how a judge will rule on a case is by looking at their past record in similar cases. Well, Kavanaugh’s record is clear — he would decimate abortion rights, eliminate protections for people living with a pre-existing condition and erode birth control access for millions of women in this country.
· Just last year, he tried to block an undocumented woman entering the United States from accessing her constitutional right to have an abortion.
· Kavanaugh suggested that the ACA’s consumer protections for pre-existing conditions were linked to the individual mandate and “won’t work without an individual mandate attached to it.” Under his view, if the individual mandate is struck down, the pre-existing conditions ban must go too. This view is shared by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
· Judge Kavanaugh authored the dissenting opinion in the D.C. Circuit’s 2015 ruling on the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit — writing that he believed employers have the right to deny their employees health insurance coverage for birth control.
Much, too much, in my opinion, attention has been given to Kavanaugh’s statement that Roe is “settled law.” However, newly disclosed documents reveal Judge Kavanaugh knows calling Roe v. Wade “settled law” is effectively meaningless because it can be overruled by any Supreme Court.
In addition, during his testimony, Kavanaugh invoked a medically inaccurate anti-abortion code word and referred to birth control as an abortion-inducing drug.
The threat here is not theoretical, it is very much immediate. President Trump promised to nominate a Supreme Court justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and the Supreme Court will have the chance to rule on the right to access abortion, birth control and care at Planned Parenthood health centers within two years.
We have the power to ensure that the Supreme Court upholds its duty to protect our constitutional rights — including a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion.
Now is the time to speak up and contact your senators about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. We deserve to know if he believes that the Constitution protects individual liberty and the rights of all people to make personal decisions about their bodies and personal relationships, and whether he will uphold these rights.