President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, has been a constant conservative presence on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for twelve years. Judge Kavanaugh has made it a point to stress textual limitations of the Constitution while often supporting corporations over regulators, and the government over individuals claiming violations of their rights. With seldom exceptions, his position is to the right. With his nomination, Americans are concerned that long standing precedents may be overturned, and Kavanaugh’s appointment could mean huge changes especially when it comes to women’s health.
When President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh on July 9, 2018, the President spoke highly of him as a person, a father, and a judge. Judge Kavanaugh has stated that he had no intentions of overturning Roe v. Wade precedent during yet has eluded to a narrower interpretation of when a woman can exercise that right. In this time of “fake news,” a term coined by the President himself, it is unsettling as a woman to trust Kavanaugh’s statement as a promise. His actions and opinions thereafter have raised even more concern.
In a notable decision in the fall of 2017, the DC Circuit voted to allow an undocumented pregnant seventeen year-old girl in an immigration detention center to obtain an abortion without delay. Judge Kavanaugh dissented. He noted that while the Court of Appeals was obliged to follow Supreme Court rulings that recognized the Constitutional protection of a woman’s right to choose an abortion, those precedents left room for the government to apply “reasonable regulations that do not impose an undue burden.” Judge Kavanaugh sided with the Trump Administration, who argued that the young women should first be transferred to an adult sponsor for guidance, and argued that it was reasonable to choose a transfer to a sponsor instead of “forcing the minor to make the decision in an isolated detention camp with no support network available. . . . The majority’s decision represents a radical extension of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence,” he wrote.
Many Democrat political figures, like Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Dianne Feinstein, and Kamala D. Harris have expressed their grave concerns with a Kavanaugh appointment and made it clear that, in their opinion, Judge Kavanaugh does not intend to maintain Roe v. Wade precedent. Senator Harris said, in response to Judge Kavanaugh’s remark equating birth control to “abortion inducing drugs,” tweeted on September 7, 2018, “Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control. He was nominated for the purpose of taking away a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own health care decisions. Make no mistake – this is about punishing women.”
As disconcerting as anything unknown, only time will tell if Judge Kavanaugh will be given Supreme Court decision making power with the hearings on the sexual assault allegations delaying the vote. In moments like these, it is paramount we realize how influential these types of nominations and appointments can really be in our country.