Center for Reproductive Rights Statement on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court

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(PRESS RELEASE) Said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“President Trump has vowed to nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court only justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.  In addition to this litmus test, he has also said women who have abortions should be punished. Today, with the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, the President is presumably making good on his Roe-reversal promise. Every Senator should assume that is the case, absent a clear and compelling statement from the nominee that he agrees with the rationale and premise of Roe v. Wade—that the right to abortion is among the Constitution’s guaranteed personal liberty rights.

“In the past twelve years that Judge Kavanaugh has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, he has ruled in one case involving women’s access to abortion.  Last October in Garza v. Hargan, Judge Kavanaugh joined an opinion that would have allowed the Trump administration to further delay the request of a 17-year-old undocumented minor in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services who was seeking an abortion. The opinion ignored the fact that HHS had already blocked the young woman from getting an abortion for four weeks, and that she had completed Texas’ requirement that a state judge determine that she could consent to the abortion herself.  The entire D.C. Circuit overruled the decision. Judge Kavanaugh dissented, continuing to argue that it was constitutional to delay her access for at least 11 more days.  He claimed to be applying Supreme Court precedent in permitting the continued delay – but his interpretation would not meaningfully protect the right to abortion for this young woman for whom the clock was ticking. 

“Judge Kavanaugh’s limited record supports the presumption that he fits the President’s litmus test. If that is not the case, the burden is on him to clarify his views otherwise.

“It is imperative that no nominee be confirmed who would overturn or gut the protections of Roe v. Wade.  One in four women in the United States will decide to end a pregnancy.  The overwhelming majority of Americans do not want to see Roe overturned.  They understand, as has been articulated by the Court, that the Constitution guarantees to each person the right to make the “most basic decisions about family and parenthood” because these are “choices central to personal dignity and autonomy.”

Roe has been reaffirmed in constitutional decisions and relied on by generations of women for over 45 years. Just two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed in the landmark case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a woman’s right to access legal abortion.  This decision was the most significant abortion-related ruling in more than two decades, so the precedent on a woman’s constitutional right to access abortion is clear.

If Roe fell tomorrow, access to abortion in 22 states could be banned outright.  As in the days before Roe, the harm would fall hardest on young and low-income women, women of color, and anyone unable to travel out of state to seek access to abortion care that was once available closer to home.

“Overturning Roe would also undermine other personal liberty rights for millions of Americans.  Roe is the foundation for a broad swath of constitutional law that protects our right to make decisions about marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child-rearing and education, and more.  Roe is about what the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey explained is “a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.”

“It’s time for clear answers from Supreme Court nominees.  Justice Gorsuch evaded questions during his confirmation hearing and has since proven dangerously hostile to a host of civil rights – from workers’ rights to voting rights.  That cannot happen again.  The public and the Senate must be vigilant to ensure that the next justice confirmed be one who will protect the fundamental rights of all.”



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