Critics of President Donald Trump's record on church-state separation view his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court as yet another threat to religious freedom.
"Judge Kavanaugh fails to understand that only the separation of church and state can guarantee religious freedom for all Americans," Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser said in a media statement issued minutes after Trump announced Kavanaugh's nomination on July 9. "Instead, Judge Kavanaugh appears to be intent on eviscerating this fundamental American value. That fact alone should disqualify him for a seat on the Supreme Court."
Americans United was far from alone in calling on the Senate to reject Kavanaugh's confirmation: AU joined more than 100 national civil rights organizations from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) coalition in sending a letter to the Senate voicing opposition to Kavanaugh's nomination. Over the course of 15 pages, the organizations enumerated Kavanaugh's troubling record on issues including health care access, women's reproductive rights, immigrants' rights and discrimination claims.
"Judge Kavanaugh's 12-year record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as well as his known writings, speeches, and legal career, demonstrate that if he were confirmed to the Supreme Court, he would be the fifth and decisive vote to undermine many of our core rights and legal protections," the LCCHR coalition wrote.
"In case after case, he has ruled against individuals and the environment in favor of corporations, the wealthy, and the powerful," the letter continued. "He has advanced extreme legal theories to overturn longstanding precedent to diminish the power of federal agencies to help people. And he has demonstrated an expansive view of presidential power that includes his belief that presidents should not be subject to civil suits or criminal investigations while in office despite what misconduct may have occurred."
Kavanaugh was named a potential Supreme Court nominee last November when Trump released an updated list of Federalist Society-approved candidates following the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch. After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced on June 27 his plan to retire at the end of July, Kavanaugh quickly became a top contender.
Americans United staff had exhaustively researched the records of all 25 Trump judicial candidates and found Kavanaugh's record to be particularly hostile toward church-state separation.
"Let me tell you what Brett Kavanaugh thinks of the separation of church and state," said AU's Laser during a "Stop Kavanaugh" protest that formed outside the Supreme Court the night of his nomination. "He says that the wall of separation [between] church and state was the wrong metaphor as a matter of law and history. "
Laser was referring to Kavanaugh's speech last year at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), during which he praised former Chief Justice...