If You Still Think Brett Kavanaugh Won’t Criminalize Abortion, Think Again.
On July 9th, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. After months of promises to stack the bench with anti-choice justices and the success of placing anti-choice extremist Neil Gorsuch on the bench, Trump found his man in anti-choice ideologue Brett Kavanaugh. Having served as a circuit court judge for over 10 years and acted as a senior advisor to the Bush White House, Kavanaugh has quite the paper trail. Even with only a percentage of Kavanaugh’s White House papers currently available to U.S. senators, we know a lot about the potential justice. Some seem to believe that a fatal blow to Roe v. Wade is unimaginable after all our years of progress for reproductive freedom, but that’s simply not the case. If you somehow still believe that Brett Kavanaugh isn’t out to criminalize abortion and punish women, think again.
The most obvious reason we have to believe that Kavanaugh intends to rollback Roe v. Wade is that President Trump flat-out told us. Sure, the president isn’t exactly known for his honesty, but if there’s one promise he hasn’t wavered on, it’s that he intends to serve the special interests of the anti-choice groups that are propping up his dangerous agenda.
When asked if he would overturn Roe v. Wade as a presidential candidate, Donald Trump went on record stating, “If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that will happen. And that will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.” The same man proudly exclaimed that “There has to be some form of punishment” for people who choose to have an abortion. Before even making it to the White House, Trump created a litmus test for his potential Supreme Court nominees, and we have no reason not to take him at his word.
Besides the fact that the President of the United States literally told us that Brett Kavanaugh will gut Roe, there’s also the glaring reality that Kavanaugh was hand-selected by the co-chair of an anti-choice extremist group that touts its mission to “abolish abortion.” Leonard Leo, who is also the vice president of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society, has been personally tasked with selecting both of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominees. Fellow conservatives have hailed Leo as an anti-choice hero for the courts, saying “No one has been more dedicated to building a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade.” To think that with all his power over our highest court, Leo would have chosen someone who would fail to rollback Roe v. Wade is to blatantly ignore reality. Kavanaugh is Leonard Leo’s dream pick.
And it’s not just that other anti-choice men in power are cheering on Brett Kavanaugh — there’s plenty of evidence straight from the man himself. In a 2017 speech, Kavanaugh called former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, one of the two dissenters in Roe v. Wade, his “first judicial hero.” Throughout his speech, Brett Kavanaugh praised the former Chief Justice for dissenting in Roe and again for unsuccessfully trying to overturn Roe v. Wade when the Court was faced with Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.
Maybe Kavanaugh was only expressing his personal feelings in that speech and wouldn’t rule that way — except that he already has.
In late 2017, Kavanaugh and the D.C. Circuit Court heard the case of Jane Doe, a 17-year-old pregnant minor who was undocumented and unaccompanied. Jane had chosen to obtain an abortion and was attempting to both coordinate and pay for her own appointments to access the procedure, but the U.S. Government chose to hold her hostage and deny her the right to access healthcare. Against a passionate dissent from his fellow judge, Kavanaugh issued a decision to force the young woman to carry her pregnancy to term against her will.
A full Court of Appeals went on to reverse Kavanaugh’s decision and find in the previous decision that he violated the binding precedent of Roe v. Wade. In his fuming dissent of that ruling, Brett Kavanaugh replied that Roe is “a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong.” It’s clear that Kavanaugh had no problem overruling Roe v. Wade in Jane Doe’s case, and would be all-too-thrilled to rollback the abortion rights for the rest of us.
Kavanaugh doesn’t have to come right out and say that he’s going to criminalize abortion — even though he’s pretty much done it. When it comes to gutting Roe v. Wade and criminalizing abortion, the evidence is stacked against him, and that’s only the evidence that we’ve been allowed to see. Kavanaugh served in a White House that reinstated the anti-choice Global Gag Rule and enacted a federal abortion ban, but those records are being denied to the American people by Senate Republicans — even though similar records were demanded by Republicans for the confirmation of Justice Elena Kagan. Now Republicans have fast-tracked Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings to start on September 4th so that they can prevent any additional records from being released.
Brett Kavanaugh’s existing record has been more than good enough for anti-choice extremist groups. They believe that Kavanaugh is the vote they need to criminalize abortion, and we should too. They’re organizing across the country to confirm Kavanaugh and reach their goal of throwing women in jail just for making their own private healthcare decisions. They’ve got more money, but we’ve got more people. It’s time for the pro-choice majority in this country to rise up and defend our constitutional rights. The threat of Brett Kavanaugh is real, and it’s here now. If you care about women retaining any semblance of self-determination, backing down in this fight is not an option.