Earlier this week, President Donald J. Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be the next U.S. Supreme Court justice. Americans United opposes Kavanaugh’s nomination because his record as an attorney and federal judge indicates that he won’t uphold church-state separation.
Not surprisingly, leaders of the Religious Right feel differently. They’re fired up over the prospect of Justice Kavanaugh.
Among the Religious Right leaders supporting Kavanaugh’s nomination is Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.
“From the day Justice Kennedy retired, the Left has sought to make this vacancy all about abortion – even though many other significant issues are at stake including religious freedom and free speech,” Perkins said. “Under the Obama administration, we saw a growing assault on religious freedom, and the courts became a battleground for secularists seeking to remove faith from the public square. Judge Kavanaugh resisted this trend in at least two instances – an HHS contraceptive mandate case and in an opinion supporting inauguration prayers.”
Perkins is, of course, praising Kavanaugh’s record of supporting religion being used to harm others, public-school-sponsored prayer and taxpayer money funding religious activities.
Far-right groups vetted Kavanaugh. According to the Chicago Tribune, Kavanaugh has been currying favor with the Religious Right and “had been outsourced to, and approved by, the conservative legal organization the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.”
Other groups are equally enthused. In an email to supporters, Faith and Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed went as far as to assert that Kavanaugh would be a justice “in the model of Antonin Scalia.”
And Paula White, Trump’s spiritual advisor, said: “[I]f President Trump hit a home run with Justice Gorsuch, in the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh he’s hit a grand slam.”
Still other Religious Right figures, such as Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a frequent far-right evangelical apologist for Trump, sees the Kavanaugh nomination as another Trump sop to the Religious Right for its loyalty to him.
“Evangelicals are ecstatic because in less than two years, President Trump has filled a second Supreme Court vacancy with a second conservative – just as he promised,” Jeffress said. “The fact that the president chose another conservative justice is more important than the name of that justice. This is a huge win for President Trump.”
Evangelist Franklin Graham said that Kavanaugh, “if confirmed, could shape the judicial landscape of this country for decades to come. … We need to thank God for this long-awaited opportunity to change the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Kavanaugh’s definition of religious freedom, like the Religious Right’s, is narrow, not inclusive. In Americans United’s new report on Kavanaugh’s record, we highlighted how he would likely undermine religious freedom in various ways, including ruling in favor of religion being used as an excuse to discriminate against others, supporting school-sponsored prayer and public funding of religious institutions and prioritizing Christian beliefs over religious and nonreligious minority rights.
We can’t let that happen.
The separation of church and state is the linchpin of religious freedom. We can’t afford to have a Supreme Court that would undermine it. By nominating Kavanaugh to the court, Trump threatens the vision of religious freedom for which Americans United has fought over the last 70 years. That’s why Americans United is opposing him.
It’s not as if the Religious Right knows something the rest of us don’t. In fact, Kavanaugh’s record is quite clear: He’s hostile to church-state separation – and that is exactly why these groups are so excited about him.
This process is just getting started, and there’s plenty of time to act. Please urge your senators to reject Kavanaugh’s confirmation. You can do that right here.