(PRESS RELEASE) Statement of Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Today, after a wrenching confirmation fight, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as an Associate Supreme Court Justice by a two-vote margin. This is a somber day. As an organization that litigates extensively in courts throughout the nation, we shudder at what the confirmation process has laid bare: that the U.S. Supreme Court, where we turn to seek justice under the law, may become yet another venue of pure partisan politics.
On Thursday, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Judge Kavanaugh’s most recent testimony “has demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential litigants before the court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities.” That same day, more than 2,400 law professors signed a public letter stating that Judge Kavanaugh did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the Supreme Court.
Partisanship is an existential threat to an independent judiciary and protection of our rights. Since his nomination, we have had grave concerns about how soon-to-be Justice Kavanaugh will rule on reproductive rights cases. We took the unprecedented step of opposing his nomination after a careful and thorough review of his judicial opinions, speeches, and writings that evinced a judicial philosophy fundamentally hostile to reproductive rights. His testimony did not dispel those concerns. So, what is to be done?
For the Center for Reproductive Rights, the answer is to stay true to our values and our mission. We are a firmly nonpartisan organization. Our vision is of a world where a woman’s access to the full range of reproductive health care is respected as a fundamental right, and where she can make decisions about that care without coercion or discrimination. We are fighting for human rights, and to ensure that the personal liberty and equality rights that are protected by the U.S. Constitution are extended to every person. It is imperative that sexual assault reports are considered with respect and gravity. The collective outcry from survivors and their supporters during this confirmation process was not in vain. They have made a difference in the ongoing reckoning of our society that sexual assault and harassment will not be tolerated.
On the Supreme Court, Justice Kavanaugh will have the opportunity to demonstrate that he is, in his own words, “a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no political party, litigant or policy.” He has vowed to “keep an open mind in every case and always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.” He testified that Roe v. Wade (1973) is “settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court entitled the respect under principles [of] stare decisis.” Time will tell if he will approach abortion rights cases, and all others, with an open mind and commitment to settled law. What you can be sure of is that we will vigorously defend our rights as we continue to litigate in state and federal courts around the country. This will never change.
None of us can predict the future. But we can commit to what we will do today. At the Center for Reproductive Rights, we will work tirelessly until a woman’s bodily autonomy and agency over her reproductive life are guaranteed in law and protected from election outcomes and partisan warfare. We will advocate for these principles in legislative bodies, articulate these values in the public sector, and go to court to strike down laws that limit our precious and bedrock freedoms. This is our promise. This you can count on.”