Feminists Respond to President Trump’s Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

Following President Donald Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court of Brett Kavanaugh, a far-right D.C. Circuit Court judge, the White House released a list of supportive statements about his decision from 34 members of Congress—and each and every one came from a straight, white man.

Should he be seated on the Court, Kavanaugh could reverse decades of progress for women, people of color, LGBTQ folks and other marginalized communities. He was hand-picked by the Federalist Society—an organization of so-called originalists who believe that the Constitution should be interpreted as it was intended during its writing by the Founding Fathers, leaving little room for the document to protect against discrimination or advance equality. He would be the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing states to outlaw abortion and criminalize providers and patients. He is a darling of anti-LGBT hate groups and the NRA.

Surprisingly, none of these concerns were addressed in the all-white, all-male list of statements released by the White House after his nomination was announced. Since there was so much missing from their collection of remarks, we compiled our own.

Without further ado, we present 34 statements by feminist leaders and lawmakers forming a front line in the fight against Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Signs left behind after the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. (Lewis Francis / Creative Commons)

Debra Hauser, Advocates for Youth: Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court is just another capitulation to the far-right fringe that has hijacked our judicial system—where it seeks to cement the Trump administration’s persecution of women, people of color, and LGBTQ people… This announcement is not only a blow to our rights today, but will impact the rights of marginalized communities for generations to come… Young people want to move this country forward, not backwards.

Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice: Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court would result in grave harm to the American people. We already know that Kavanaugh meets Donald Trump’s two main criteria for a Supreme Court nominee: that he will vote to undermine Roe v. Wade and take health insurance away from millions. It is unconscionable and tragic that the fulfillment of these pledges will cause untold suffering. Not only that, but Kavanaugh has established a record that shows his lack of commitment to consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, clean air and water, and the fundamental principle that no President is above the law. His confirmation would definitively shift the balance of the Court and turn the clock back on our rights and liberties for the next generation.

Nancy Northup, Center for Reproductive Rights: President Trump has vowed to nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court only justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade… With the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, the President is presumably making good on his Roe-reversal promise. 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.

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL): We can’t ignore the reality that Donald Trump wants to take us back to a time when insurers could refuse coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or that he promised to only nominate Justices who would put the government back in between women and their doctors.

Stephanie Schriock, EMILY’s List: Any nominee—including Kavanaugh, handpicked by right-wing groups for his views on abortion rights, among other issues—who supports overturning Roe or placing even further restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care is unfit to serve the American people; full stop.

Jess Davidson, End Rape on Campus: If confirmed, Kavanaugh will have ample opportunity to put forth an anti-LGBTQIA agenda, and to restrict equal health care access for those who need it most. His nomination is devastating, particularly to survivors of sexual violence and to members of historically and currently disenfranchised communities.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): Brett Kavanaugh’s views are far outside the mainstream when it comes to health care, executive power, privacy and gun safety. We need a nominee who understands that the court must protect the rights of all Americans, not just political interest groups and the powerful.

Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority: Kavanaugh was handpicked by the right-wing, anti-reproductive rights Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, and then passed President Trump’s litmus test, which means he could very well be the deciding Justice that overturns Roe v. Wade. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, we could be just a short time away from abortion being outlawed and criminalized in over half the country. That means states could prosecute and imprison doctors and nurses who perform abortions, as well as women who have them… We are standing at the precipice of a turning point for human rights in America. This is the fight of our lives.

Gabby Giffords, The Giffords Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence: Judge Kavanaugh’s dangerous views on the Second Amendment are far outside the mainstream of even conservative thought and stand in direct opposition to the values and priorities of the vast majority of Americans. America needs a Supreme Court justice who respects the Second Amendment but who also realizes reasonable regulations that reduce gun violence do not infringe on anyone’s constitutional rights. But that’s not the kind of justice President Trump nominated today.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY): Tell your senators to hold the line. Tell them to refuse to hold a hearing. Tell them not to confirm anyone until after the midterm elections—when we can recommend a bipartisan nominee. Call, and don’t stop calling. There’s too much at stake not to raise your voice right now.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA): Two decades before Brown v. Board, I was only the second class to integrate at Berkeley public schools. WIthout that decision, I likely would not have become a lawyer and eventually be elected a Senator from California. That’s the power a Supreme Court Justice holds… WIth the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, our fundamentals rights and freedoms are at stake.

Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI): The indications are that [Kavanaugh] views executive powers as being vast. At a time when this president pushes his executive powers to the limit, should we have somebody on the Supreme Court who believes that there should be an insulation of the president against either criminal or civil proceedings as long as he sits in office?

Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign: We, the American people, have made it clear: we want progress to continue moving forward, not take several steps back. With Kavanaugh, a pick covered with Trump and Pence’s anti-equality fingerprints, we risk undoing all the success we’ve worked so hard together to accomplish. The Senate has a responsibility to reject any nominee who would fail to be a fair-minded constitutionalist. That is Brett Kavanaugh.

Marcela Howell, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda: Do not let Kavanaugh’s focus on his daughters and women law clerks during his acceptance speech fool you. This is the same man who tried to use his judicial power to prevent an undocumented woman in U.S. custody from accessing her right to an abortion and the same man who allegedly called Hillary Clinton derogatory names. He would attack women’s rights, civil rights and human rights if he is confirmed. We cannot stand idly by and let Trump further imprint his horrible legacy on the high court. We urge the Senate to reject Kavanaugh and stand with the Black women and women of color fighting to ensure that every woman has the resources and right to make decisions about her own body.

Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA): Trump’s motives have been clear: he’s taking swipes at vulnerable communities and hardworking families with every chance he gets. Brett Kavanaugh comes from a roster of extremists approved by right-wing organizations that are committed to pushing a regressive agenda. This appointment is the most momentous in a generation and it will affect historics decisions made or the next half century—we can’t let that time be defined by partisan rulings that hurt our communities and strip away our rights.

Rachel B. Tiven, Lambda Legal: Brett Kavanaugh would guarantee 40 more years of Trump’s values on the Supreme Court. Like every other judicial nominee who has a seal of approval from the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, Brett Kavanaugh shares Donald Trump’s same distorted view of the law. We have good reason to fear that Brett Kavanaugh will abuse his power on the Court to protect the wealthy and the powerful while depriving LGBT Americans of our dignity, demeaning our community and diminishing our status as equal citizens. There is too much at stake to allow Brett Kavanaugh to sit on the Court that, over its history, has decided who can marry, who can vote and who is equal.

Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): A vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court Justice is a vote to destroy Roe v. Wade, women’s freedoms, families’ affordable healthcare, LGBT rights, labor unions, the list goes on and on. We need a court that will respect precedent. We will not allow the President to use the Supreme Court to drive our country backwards and set progress back decades. If Merrick Garland could not be given a confirmation hearing because of the 2016 election, Brett Kavanaugh must be held to the same standard now that the midterm elections are fast approaching. The American people deserve a voice.

Shannon Watts, MomsDemand Action: President Trump vowed he’d never let the NRA down, and with the Kavanaugh pick, he chose someone whose judicial record demonstrates a dangerous view of the Second Amendment that elevates gun rights over public safety. The Senate should vote down this nomination.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, MomsRising: Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is a direct attack on our health care and on women, moms and families. Kavanaugh is wrong for our nation. We must come together to overcome all court-sanctioned racism and xenophobia—and to build a nation where everyone can thrive. That begins with the U.S. Senate refusing to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA): In nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump has found exactly what he was looking for—someone who will put extreme, right-wing ideology ahead of patients’ access to health care.

Ilyse Hogue, NARAL Pro-Choice America: We can’t forget what America was like before Roe and we know the reality today for so many women in so many states across the nation where our right to make the most fundamental decisions about our bodies, our families, and our lives has been all but eradicated. Kavanaugh would use the Court as a tool to doom all women to that fate. Ending Roe doesn’t end abortion; it simply means we have a country where abortion is illegal and women and doctors become criminals… This fight goes beyond Roe. This is a battle for the very heart and soul of our country and the result is about nothing less than whether women will be second class citizens for generations to come. Senators hold the keys to women’s fundamental freedoms in their hands.

Melissa Fowler, National Abortion Federation: Kavanaugh is an extreme judge who has the highest number of dissents per year of any judge on the D.C. Circuit. One of those dissents was in the highly-publicized “Jane Doe” case last year where Kavanaugh tried to block an undocumented minor in government custody from exercising her constitutionally protected right to an abortion. We need a Supreme Court justice who will honor established precedent, including the constitutional right to privacy and Roe v. Wade, and that is not Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: Initial review of Judge Kavanaugh’s record indicates a troubling and expansive vision of executive power—a position that is incredibly dangerous under this current President’s tenure. Given his past deference to major corporations and hostility to vulnerable communities, his record raises serious questions about whether he will protect the rights of the most vulnerable among us. LDF will continue to review Judge Kavanaugh’s record, but we are already worried about what we’ve seen. One of the last remaining bulwarks of democracy is at risk. We must protect the Supreme Court so that it can protect all of us.

Shannon Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights: To date, there is nothing in Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record to indicate that he understands the real-world impact of discrimination on LGBT people or the importance of construing our nation’s laws to enable them to participate fully and equally in society. The Supreme Court must be a court for all, not just for the privileged few. It is sobering that a president who has shown disregard for many of our nation’s most cherished rights and freedoms has an opportunity to appoint a second justice to the Supreme Court. This moment is a wake-up call to LGBT people and others about the critical importance of elections and the need to vote this November.

Mara Kiesling, National Center for Transgender Equality: Health care protections. Reproductive rights. Basic civil liberties. That, and more, is what transgender people stand to lose if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court. We could even go back to the times when being transgender was considered a pre-existing condition, and when trans people couldn’t get insurance… Clearly biased judges like Kavanaugh have no place in any court, let alone the Supreme Court. Let’s #SaveSCOTUS and keep him off the bench.

Toni VanPelt, National Organization for Women: Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat by refusing to consider Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, and now Senate Republicans are at it again. We are on the threshold of the most consequential Congressional elections in modern times. Voters are going to the polls to express their views on who should be setting the agenda in Congress and whose values should be reflected on the bench. We call on the Senate to refuse to take up this nomination until the people they represent have voiced their opinions.

Fatima Goss Graves, National Women’s Law Center: Judge Kavanaugh is dangerous for women. He has voted against women’s constitutional rights, including approving the Trump Administration blocking a young immigrant woman from obtaining an abortion. This appalling opinion was Kavanaugh’s audition for the Supreme Court. After showing his hostility to abortion, he was added to Trump’s shortlist.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- CA): Brett Kavanaugh has proven he cannot be trusted to defend a woman’s right to choose. We must stand united against him and the ongoing Trump assault on women’s health care.

Dr. Willie Parker, Physicians for Reproductive Health: As a doctor, I know that patients need access to abortion as part of comprehensive reproductive health care and is one of the safest medical procedures available. Roe is broadly supported across the country because the one in four women who have abortions, along with the people who care about them, know that this medical care is essential. For 45 years, the right to have an abortion has allowed countless women and families to make the decisions that were best for them. The Trump administration and its supporters’ goal of overturning longstanding precedent despite both medical evidence and public opinion can only be described as an extremist view….  I urge the rejection of any nominee who will not defend all of our rights, including the constitutional right to abortion care.

Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood Federation of America: There’s no way to sugarcoat it: with this nomination, the constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion in this country is on the line… The balance of the Supreme Court is at stake—we cannot allow it to be tilted against the constitutional right to access abortion. Generations of women, especially women of color, will be affected. And generations of people have grown up only knowing a country where they have the right to access safe, legal abortion. We cannot allow our children and grandchildren to have fewer rights than we do today.

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): Roe v. Wade wasn’t the beginning of abortions in America. It was the end of women dying from abortions in America. Putting Brett Kavanaugh on the bench would threaten to bring women back to dark days and back alleys.

Southern Poverty Law Center: If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, we’ll no longer be able to rely on the federal judiciary to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in our country… We can’t take our basic rights for granted. Our country deserves better.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA):  He’s [Kavanaugh] opposed the rights of women, workers and consumers. The fight of our lives is here and we’re going to fight our hearts out to make Washington listen to us. It’s what our democracy is all about.

Women’s March: We’re not fooled by the argument that Kavanaugh isn’t a “bomb-thrower” or that he’s made no extreme controversial rulings. In our opinion, creating and supporting barriers to women seeking to make choices about our own bodies is pretty extreme.


Brock Colyar is a former editorial intern at Ms. They were a journalism and gender and sexuality studies major at Northwestern University, where they founded a campus queer and radical feminist magazine and served as a sexual health and assault peer educator. Much of their spare time is spent overthinking intra-feminist politics and Stevie Nicks. You can follow them on Twitter @UnhappyFem (Photo via Colin Boyle/The Daily Northwestern.)