Americans United opposed President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court

Trump and Kavanaugh both have shown little respect for the separation of church and state.

In fact, Kavanaugh believes that the "wall of separation” metaphor “was wrong as a matter of law and history" – even though the metaphor was invoked by Thomas Jefferson and has long been used by the Supreme Court to explain the protections guaranteed to us in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The separation of church and state guarantees religious freedom for all Americans. We can’t afford to have a Supreme Court that would undermine it. With Trump's nomination of Kavanaugh to the court, our core American principle of church-state separation hangs in the balance.

That’s why Americans United urged the Senate to reject Kavanaugh's nomination.

 

Check out AU's video about "Brett Kavanaugh's America"  – a dangerous place with no strong wall of separation between church & state:


 

developments

Oct. 6, 2018: Ignoring the many reasons why Brett Kavanaugh is wrong for the Supreme Court – including his hostile record toward church-state separation – the Senate confirmed him anyway in a 50-48 vote. Read AU's statement here and a blog post here.

Kavanaugh’s views alone disqualified him from the Supreme Court, particularly his opposition to the separation of religion and government. His record as a judge of allowing people to use ‘religious freedom’ to discriminate is especially ominous in light of the Religious Right’s movement, empowered and emboldened by this administration, to misuse this core American principle to advance a regressive political agenda.

~ Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United

Sept. 28, 2018: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate for consideration and a likely vote within a few days, despite compelling, credible testimony the day before from Professor Christine Blasey Ford alleging Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her. Americans United urged the Senate to reject Kavanaugh's nomination; you can read our statement here and a blog post here. You can take action now by urging your senators to oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Brett Kavanaugh faced a job interview by the Senate Judiciary Committee and failed miserably. This nomination shouldn’t move forward, especially without a full and fair investigation of the allegations made against him.

~ Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United

Sept. 17, 2018: In response to credible allegations that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when they both were in high school, Americans United joined dozens of organizations affiliated with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in urging the Senate to initiate a fair, nonpartisan and thorough process to review the allegations. You can read the letter here.

Sept. 10, 2018: Americans United sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging senators to oppose Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation due to his record of hostility toward church-state separation. You can read the letter here.

Sept. 7, 2018: Alicia Baker, an ordained minister from Indiana, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her experience of being denied birth control coverage due to her insurance provider's religious beliefs, and her fears that more women will face similar situations with Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Alicia was a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed by Americans United and allies in fall 2017 to challenge the Trump administration's rules that would allow employers and universities to cite religion as justification for denying employees and students access to birth control. You can read a blog post about Alicia here; watch a video of her testifying here; and read her testimony here.

 

Sept. 6, 2018: Newly released records from Brett Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House reveal more about his dangerous views on church-state separation. In this blog post, AU Legislative Director Maggie Garrett outlined these and other revelations from the second day of questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sept. 5, 2018: During the first day of questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh's comments about religious freedom confirmed that he is a serious threat to the separation of church and state, and therefore to the religious freedom of all Americans. AU Legislative Director Maggie Garrett summarized his comments in this blog post.

Sept. 4, 2018: As Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing began before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser joined more than 100 women for a vigil at the Hart Senate Office Building to underscore the threats Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice would pose to women's rights. You can watch the vigil here.

Rachel Laser at Kavanaugh vigil

(Photo: AU President and CEO  Rachel Laser, center, listens to women talk about what's at stake with Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.)

 

Sept. 3, 2018: Americans United joined more than 180 organizations affiliated with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in urging the Senate to oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. You can read the letter outlining our concerns here.

Aug. 28, 2018: Timed with a Day of Action organized by Americans United to rally church-state separation advocates to oppose Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, AU released a new video, "Brett Kavanaugh's America," which describes a dangerous place with no strong wall of separation between church & state:

 

Aug. 27, 2018: Americans United was joined by three dozen faith-based, nontheist and religious freedom organizations in sending a letter to senators voicing opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. Read a blog post about the letter here.

Aug. 10, 2018: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings to begin on Sept. 4 – even though records from Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House won't be released in time for review by senators and the public first. Americans United, which joined more than 100 coalition partners in demanding release of these records, condemned Grassley's decision; read our statement here

Aug. 7, 2018: Americans United released a new video, "We Are United!," that reinforces our opposition to Kavanaugh and outlines the many church-state issues that could come before the Supreme Court:

 

July 20, 2018: Americans United joined more than 100 organizations in urging senators to ensure the release and review of documents relating to Brett Kavanaugh's extensive service in the George W. Bush administration. These documents could include revelations about Kavanaugh's involvement in Bush's faith-based initiatives, the Charitable Choice program and other church-state separation issues. Read a blog post about our letter here, or the letter itself here.

July 17, 2018: Americans United joined more than 100 organizations affiliated with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in urging the Senate to oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court because his record indicates he would be a decisive vote to undermine many of our core rights and legal protections, including religious freedom. You can read the letter outlining our concerns here.

July 11, 2018: Rob Boston, editor of Americans United's Church & State magazine, details how Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court could threaten secular public education.

July 10, 2018: Americans United produced an extensive report detailing Brett Kavanaugh's hostility toward church-state separation. It is available here.

July 9, 2018: Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser, staff and supporters joined allies for a "Stop Kavanaugh" rally at the U.S. Supreme Court to protest President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Laser enumerated how Kavanaugh has shown disregard for separation of church and state. You can watch the rally, including Laser's speech, here (Laser begins speaking at 44-minute mark). 

AU President and CEO Rachel Laser speaking outside the Supreme Court to protest Brett Kavanaugh's nomination

(Photo: AU President and CEO Rachel Laser speaks at "Stop Kavanaugh" rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Credit: Screenshot from Now This)

 

July 9, 2018: During a prime time press conference, President Donald Trump announced Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Americans United opposes the nomination of Kavanaugh, currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, because he has a demonstrated track record of hostility toward church-state separation. Read AU's statement here and our blog post here that highlights Kavanaugh's lack of respect for religious freedom for all.

Donald Trump introduces Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh

(Photo: President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Credit: Screenshot from C-SPAN)

Press:

The New York Times: Kavanaugh Could Unlock Funding for Religious Education, School Voucher Advocates Say

The Washington Post: Kavanaugh record suggests he would favor religious interests in school debates

Education Week: Kavanaugh Has Supported Public School Prayers, Religious School Vouchers

Religion News Service: Faith leaders on Kavanaugh: Defender or destroyer of religious liberty?

The Washington PostReligious liberty becomes a main focus for conservatives in Supreme Court nomination

The New York Times: The White House Is Tearing Down the Wall Between Church and State

Faith Leaders Speak Out

Leaders from diverse faith communities are speaking out about the threat Brett Kavanaugh poses to church-state separation, and therefore to religious freedom for all Americans, if he's confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here are some of their concerns:

     The Rev. Charles Foster Johnson, executive director of Pastors for Texas Children, in the Houston Chronicle“Kavanaugh threatens religious liberty in Texas"

     Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, United Methodist Church in California, in The Sacramento Bee: “Will a Justice Kavanaugh threaten our religious freedom?”

     The Rev. Brian Kaylor, a Baptist minister in Missouri, in the St. Louis Dispatch“Kavanaugh works to dismantle wall between church, state”

     Rabbi Erica Asch and Zen Buddhist priest Peter Wohl in Maine, in the Kennebec Journal“Kavanaugh nomination puts true religious freedom at risk”

     The Rev. David L. Helfer, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County, Rhode Island, in the Providence Journal: “Kavanaugh wrong about religious freedom”

Resources