Jul 09, 2018

Americans United for Separation of Church and State tonight opposed President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The organization said Kavanaugh’s demonstrated track record of hostility toward church-state separation should make him ineligible for the position.

“Judge Kavanaugh fails to understand that only the separation of church and state can guarantee religious freedom for all Americans. Instead, Judge Kavanaugh appears to be intent on eviscerating this fundamental American value,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United. “That fact alone should disqualify him for a seat on the Supreme Court.

“Our core American principle of church-state separation hangs in the balance,” said Laser. “We call on the Senate to reject the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh.”

Research by Americans United has uncovered the following about Kavanaugh, who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia:

  • Kavanaugh’s record indicates that he would likely allow religious freedom laws to be used to harm women, LGBTQ people and religious minorities. In Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kavanaugh argued that employers can cite religious beliefs to obstruct their employees’ access to contraceptive coverage.
  • Kavanaugh authored a Supreme Court brief in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe defending a public-school policy that promoted prayer at school football games. Statements he made in that brief and elsewhere suggest that Kavanaugh may disagree with five decades of settled Supreme Court rulings that prohibit public schools from sponsoring prayer.
  • In a brief submitted to the Supreme Court in Good News Club v. Milford Central School, Kavanaugh argued against longstanding precedent prohibiting the use of public funds for religious activities. The Constitution, however, guarantees that each of us gets to decide for ourselves whether and how our money goes to support religion.
  • Kavanaugh has expressed hostility toward church-state separation. In a 2017 lecture given to the American Enterprise Institute, Kavanaugh praised former Chief Justice William Rehnquist for “persuasively criticiz[ing]” the metaphor of “a strict wall of separation between church and state.” Kavanaugh approvingly noted that Rehnquist said the metaphor was “based on bad history” and “useless as a guide to judging.” Kavanaugh believes that “the wall metaphor was wrong as a matter of law and history.”   

A more detailed look at Kavanaugh's record on church-state separation is available here and here.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

(Photo credit: C-SPAN)