Shows Reverence for
Pro-life and pro-family leaders are hailing the appointment by President Donald Trump of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh currently serves as a federal judge on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has served for the last twelve years.
Kavanaugh has been a high-profile figure in legal circles in the nation's capital for many years. Prior to his appointment to the D.C. Circuit, he had served as a lead attorney and staff secretary in the office of former President George W. Bush. He had also previously served as a Supreme Court law clerk for Justice Kennedy, as did Trump's most recent appointment, Neil Gorsuch.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, says that President Trump has fulfilled a promise to appoint judges who will strictly interpret the Constitution. "President Trump promised a constitutionalist--someone who will call balls and strikes in accord with the language of the Constitution."
"We trust the President that Judge Kavanaugh will fit this mold as a justice. He has a long and praiseworthy history of judging as an originalist, and we look forward to having a justice with this philosophical approach on the Court."
The most revealing comments have come from Sarah Pitlyk, a special counsel for the Thomas More Society who is a former law clerk to Judge Kavanaugh. "On the vital issues of protecting religious liberty and enforcing restrictions on abortion, no court-of-appeals judge in the nation has a stronger, more consistent record than Judge Brett Kavanaugh."
"On these issues, as on so many others, Judge Kavanaugh has fought for principle and stood firm against pressure," Pitlyk added. "His record on issues of concern to social conservatives is rock solid, and far exceeds that of any other contender. He is the right choice for this pivotal time."
Since most of the cases heard by the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals involve matters of administrative law, there are only a few cases that provide insight into Judge Kavanaugh's constitutional perspective on the right to life, the integrity of the family, and religious freedom. However, those that exist are encouraging.
Judge Kavanaugh ruled against provisions of the Obama Administration's contraceptive mandate in a case involving Priests for Life. That mandate required that all health insurance plans issued in the United States include coverage of abortifacient drugs. Kavanaugh concluded that the mandate imposed a "substantial burden" on the religious liberty of sectarian groups that hold to the truth that life begins at conception.
Judge Kavanaugh's most notable decision involving religious liberty dealt with a restrictive advertising policy adopted by the D.C. Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
(Metro). The system established a policy prohibiting "issue-oriented" ads on their buses. Metro refused an ad from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington during the Christmas season with the words "Find the Perfect Gift" and an image of shepherds following a star.
Kavanaugh ruled that the prohibition was a clear violation of the free speech rights of the Archdiocese, and a further violation of the church's rights to the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Kavanaugh derided the Christmas-ad ban as "pure discrimination" and "odious to the Constitution."
Media speculation has focused almost exclusively on whether Kavanaugh would provide a fifth vote on the High Court to overrule the Roe v. Wade
decision from 1973 legalizing abortion on demand. Off the bench, Kavanaugh made a speech in which he seems to refer to Roe
as an example of "freewheeling judicial creation of unemerated rights that were not rooted in the nation's history and tradition."
Even if he were willing to rule correctly that Roe
had no constitutional basis, the question remains whether he would truly provide the deciding majority vote. While it seems extremely likely that Justices, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch would set aside the precedent of Roe
as a raw abuse of judicial power by the High Court, there is no
assurance that Justice John Roberts wold be willing to go that far.
What does seem certain is that the Supreme Court would reverse the disastrous Hellerstedt decision of 2016. In that case, the High Court struck down a Texas law requiring that abortion clinics meet the same health and safety standards as other outpatient surgical facilities.
The Texas law was patterned after a statute adopted by the Missouri General Assembly in 1986, which has now been enjoined by a federal court. The result has been a successful effort by Planned Parenthood to re-open its abortion clinic in Columbia, and further efforts to open abortion mills in Springfield and Joplin.
While Justice Kennedy has generally been a strong defender of religious liberty, it is expected that Judge Kavanaugh would be even more so, particularly as it relates to the free exercise and free speech rights of those who believe in the true definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Kavanaugh, married and the father of two daughters, is a devout Catholic who serves as a lector at his parish. He has been very actively involved with Catholic Charities in Washington, where he has been a regular volunteer with the St. Maria Meals program.
We strongly encourage you to contact your two U.S. Senators now and urge them to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
You can contact U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill by using this link:
You can contact U.S. Senator Roy Blunt by using this link: