If you care about health care access and reproductive rights, then you should be concerned about Brett Kavanaugh as President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. His record indicates he’s hostile toward church-state separation and could allow religious beliefs to justify discrimination.
The clearest evidence of this comes from Kavanaugh’s dissent in the church-state case Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which involved one of several nonprofit organizations that challenged an accommodation created by the Obama administration. The accommodation allowed religiously affiliated nonprofits to simply fill out a form to opt out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefit that required most health insurance plans cover contraception. The nonprofits then aren’t involved in paying for or providing insurance coverage for birth control because the government works directly with the insurance company to ensure the nonprofits’ employees still have no-cost coverage.
However, some nonprofits like Priests for Life, an anti-abortion group, claimed that merely filling out the form to obtain the accommodation violated their religious beliefs, and they sued the government. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard the case (in which Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief) and ruled that the government’s accommodation struck a fair balance of protecting both women’s access to health care and the religious beliefs of employers.
Kavanaugh, a judge on the D.C. Circuit, dissented and indicated he would have permitted the nonprofit to use religious beliefs to obstruct women’s access to birth control. Showing how far outside of the mainstream he was, his dissent was at odds with the opinions of eight of the nine federal appeals courts that upheld the accommodation.
Since that decision, the Trump Administration has proposed new rules that would allow employers and universities to cite their religious beliefs as justification for denying employees and students health insurance that covers no-cost birth control. Several lawsuits have been filed to challenge the Trump rules, including Irish 4 Reproductive Health v. Department of Health and Human Services, which was filed in late June by Americans United and our allies.
Some of these cases challenging the Trump birth control rules are likely to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. If Kavanaugh is sitting on the bench, chances are good he’ll vote once again to allow religion to be used as justification for discrimination and causing harm to others.
This issue illustrates just one of many ways Kavanaugh is wrong on church-state separation and wrong for the U.S. Supreme Court. We’ve outlined several other issues of concern – from LGBTQ rights to public education.
Now is the time to act! Help us stop Kavanaugh by urging your senators to reject his confirmation. Religious freedom and church-state separation are on the line.