Kavanaugh’s Abysmal Civil Rights Record Condemned by Menendez, Booker, Pallone, NAACP
U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.-06) today joined members of the NAACP and local faith leaders to condemn President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, for his abysmal record on civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights and more, and the danger he poses to the progress made in protecting those rights.
“One only has to look at Brett Kavanaugh’s record to see that he is anti-civil rights, anti-women, anti-worker, and anti-immigrant. His record on voting rights reveals he’s complicit in a deeply-partisan effort to suppress the rights of legitimate voters under the guise of combating nearly nonexistent voter fraud…At a time like this, Americans need a Supreme Court justice who will protect our civil rights and adhere to our highest ideals. Unfortunately, Kavanaugh’s record reveals either a stunning ignorance of our nation’s painful struggles with race or an ideological quest to tip the scales of justice in favor of the rich and powerful.”
- Senator Bob Menendez
“At its best, the Supreme Court has ushered our nation closer towards the fulfillment of our founding ideals, including the protection of civil rights, women’s rights, and workers’ rights…But with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the fundamental rights that millions of Americans struggled, fought and died for, hang in the balance. We need to focus on following in the footsteps of the generations of Americans who came before us. Generations who spoke up and stood up and showed up when it mattered. That’s why we must continue their legacy by standing in strong opposition to his nomination.”
- Senator Cory Booker
“President Trump has led a relentless assault on workers, minorities, women, immigrants, the environment and on the rule of law itself. The selection of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is an attempt to protect and expand the administration’s extreme policies,” said Rep. Pallone. “There is little doubt that Brett Kavanaugh’s vote on the Supreme Court would undo hard earned rights that are embedded in our constitution and have the support of the American people. Voting rights, civil rights and policies that promote diversity and equality in our country now hang in the balance in this nomination fight. I stand with Senators Menendez and Booker in opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination and the discriminatory policies that President Trump wants him to defend and champion.”
Speaking on behalf of New Jersey NAACP President Richard Smith, Marcus Sibley reiterated the strong statement against Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination that the nation’s foremost civil rights organization issued in July:
“The next Supreme Court justice will play an outsized role in determining whether African Americans move forward in our journey toward achieving full equality, whether we simply tread water for the next three decades, or whether we slide backward toward our former status as second-class citizens.”
“With a Justice Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, we could see reversals of hard-won gains securing equal opportunity in education, employment and housing. We could see further exclusion of communities of color from participation in our democracy,” Sibley continued. “We could see racism continue to flourish within the criminal justice system. We could see the elimination of effective tools for proving discrimination. We will fight this Trump nomination with everything we’ve got.”
Judge Kavanaugh would have a deciding vote in critical decisions that could come the Supreme Court regarding civil rights, voting rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, and discrimination:
Voting Rights and Gerrymandering
Whitford v. Nichols, №15-cv-421-bbc (W.D. Wisc.); Benisek v. Lamone, Civ. No.JKB-13–3233 (D. Md.); Common Cause v. Rucho, №1:16-cv-1026 (M.D.N.C.)
Without deciding the issue, the Supreme Court recently sent back to the lower courts cases originating in Wisconsin and Maryland about whether extreme partisan gerrymandering can violate the Constitution. The four extreme conservative justices on the Court have already stated that such claims should not be able to be reviewed, and it was likely only the influence of Justice Kennedy that kept the issue alive. Either of those cases, or another case from North Carolina raising similar issues, could well return to the Court soon, and a fifth right-wing vote would close the door to any such challenges.
Thompson v. Kemp, №1:17-cv-3856-AT (N.D. Ga.); Thomas v. Bryant, №3:18-cv-441-CWR (S.D. Miss.); Indiana State Conference of NAACP v. Lawson, №1:17-cv-02897-TWP (S.D. Ind.); One Wisconsin Institute v. Thomsen, №15-cv-324-jdp (W.D. Wisc.)
Numerous cases are pending in the lower courts challenging state redistricting plans and restrictions on voting rights as racially discriminatory. Examples include lawsuits against redistricting plans in Georgia and Mississippi, the removal of voters from the rolls in Indiana, and a Wisconsin case in which certain voter ID requirements and other restrictions were struck down. A decision is expected from the 7th Circuit court of appeals in that case. One or more of these cases could well reach the Supreme Court soon and provide an opportunity for the conservative majority to further restrict voting rights.
Other Civil Rights Issues
Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., 883 F.3d 100 (2nd Cir 2018); Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Harris Funeral Home, Inc., №16–2424 (6th Cir. March 7, 2018)
The 2nd Circuit recently held, despite the contrary views of the Trump-Sessions DOJ, that the nation’s premier employment discrimination law, Title VII, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. This decision has the potential to finally extend badly-needed protections to vulnerable LGBTQ employees across the country that, in many states, can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Those opposed to the protection of LGBTQ employees have already asked the Supreme Court to hear this case next term. In another case, the 6th Circuit has ruled that Title VII protects against anti-transgender discrimination and declined to accept a claim of exemption from the law based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That case may well also be headed for the Supreme Court.
Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, 289 Ore. App. 507, petition for review denied by 2018 Ore. LEXIS 505; Arlene’s Flowers, Inc. v. Washington, 2018 U.S. LEXIS 3950
The Supreme Court could well decide to review another case like the Masterpiece Cakeshop case that raises the question of whether those who object on religious grounds to complying with state anti-discrimination laws that apply to LGBTQ people can somehow claim an exemption from such laws. A number of such cases are pending, including an Oregon decision requiring a bakery to serve a lesbian couple that cake shop owners have already vowed to take to the Supreme Court, and a Washington decision holding that a florist’s refusal to serve a gay couple planning their wedding violated state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws, which the Supreme Court sent back to the lower courts for further consideration under Masterpiece.
Karnoski v. Trump, №18–35347 (9th Cir. July 18, 2018); Jane Doe v. Trump, №1:17-cv-0197-CKK (D.DC)
Several challenges are pending in federal district and appeals courts to Trump’s attempted ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. The 9th Circuit recently entered an order denying a DOJ request for a stay of a preliminary injunction against the ban that is now on appeal. In the case in DC, a preliminary injunction against the ban was granted and the case is proceeding, with appeals considered likely.
Kelley v. Decatur Baptist Church, №5:17-cv-1239 (N.D. Ala.)
A district court in Alabama is considering a case in which a former maintenance and child care worker contends that a church illegally fired her in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The case could be used to immunize religious institutions from discrimination lawsuits even from workers with no ecclesiastical responsibilities.
Gardner v. CLC of Pascagoula, LLC, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 17939 (5th Cir. 2018)
One example of sexual harassment occurred in Mississippi at a nursing facility. When Kymberli Gardner was groped, harassed and injured by an elderly patient with an aggressive personality disorder, her concerns were met with laughter and derision by her employer. Initially, the federal district court found that Ms. Gardner’s experiences were not “beyond what a person in Gardner’s position should expect of patients in a nursing home,” notwithstanding the fact that the nursing home eventually transferred the patient to an all-male facility after he attacked another patient. Fortunately, the appeals court gave Ms. Gardner another chance to prove her case, which remains in the courts. The case could well be utilized by opponents of sex harassment liability to limit the law in this area in the Supreme Court.
Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, Civil no. 4:15cv54 (E.D. Va.) May 22, 2018); Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, №17–3113 (3d Cir. Jun3 18, 2018)
Several cases are pending in lower courts concerning discrimination against transgender students in public schools. In Gavin Grimm’s case in Virginia, which was sent back to the district court by the Supreme Court, the district judge recently ruled that the student had a valid legal claim for discrimination under Title X and the Constitution. In the Pennsylvania case, the 3rd Circuit recently rejected a claim that it was illegal for a school district to voluntarily allow students to use facilities that corresponded to their gender identity, and the full 3rd Circuit has been asked to review the case. Either or both of these important civil rights cases could be before the Supreme Court in the near future.
Fair Housing Alliance v. Carson, №1:18 — cv-01076 (D. DC)
The Trump administration has sought to delay and dilute rules intended to reduce segregation and promote the full implementation of the Fair Housing Act. Litigation was recently filed attempting to force the federal government to follow key portions of regulations developed in 2015 intended to assist people of color, victims of gender-based violence, people with disabilities and low-income people through holistic, community-based efforts to promote integration. This case could be utilized to severely limit the Fair Housing Act.
American Insurance Association v. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16894 (DC Cir. 2015)
Millions of victims of housing discrimination have relied on the long-established principle of “disparate impact” to prove their cases and obtain justice. Despite the fact that this principle is settled law in the fair housing context–and was just recently re-affirmed by the Supreme Court in which Justice Kennedy cast the deciding vote–real estate businesses seeking to increase their profits have continued to file law suits to chip away at the doctrine. Any further weakening of the principle would make it harder for vulnerable Americans to have their rights vindicated when they are the victims of housing discrimination.