WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh to become the
next Supreme Court Justice has gotten the attention of the nation. From the
time of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has been opposed to his appointment
to the highest court of the land.
Our concerns were and are still based on
his judicial opinions and public statements on issues such as his disregard of women
rights to choose as stated in Roe v. Wade; his dubious opinions about the
legality of the Affordable Care Act; his insensitive legal positions on the
rights of disabled Americans; and his position that the Executive Branch
-namely the president - has almost unlimited powers.
In response, the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human
Rights’ Judicial Nominations Taskforce (of which NASW is a member) organized a
diverse coalition of organizations to develop strategies, action plans, and
grassroots mobilizations to challenge Kavanaugh’s fitness to become a Supreme
NASW had a significant
role in that effort. For example:
NASW national staff was designated to be a team
leader for the criminal justice team within the Judicial Nominations
Taskforce’s Research Group. The group was assigned to review the thousands of documents from Kavanaugh's days as a member of the George W. Bush
administration’s Office White House Counsel. NASW staff reviewed and “scored’ more than 3,000 White House documents. The NASW staffer on the team is also on “standby” as the
subject matter expert in the event significant criminal justice- related
questions arise during the confirmation hearings.
NASW was asked to join an ad hoc coalition of
national disabilities organizations that were in opposition to Kavanaugh’s
nomination given his hostility to the Affordable Care Act. We signed an
opposition letter that included more than 50 organizations whose members provide
services to the disabled- including those with mental and cognitive
signed onto a Kavanagh opposition letter generated by the Coalition for Human
Needs – a national coalition concerned with economic injustice and safety-net
- NASW signed onto a Kavanaugh opposition letter
generated by the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. The letter
included over 150 civil rights and social justice organizations;
- NASW submitted to the Senate Judiciary
Committee its own letter in opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination.
- NASW staff joined leading civil rights
organization leadersoutside of the confirmation hearing room in a protest of
the Kavanaugh’s nomination
Our opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination is not the first
time NASW had taken a proactive stance on nominations to the federal courts.
Over the years, we have published numerous statements on our support or
non-support of nominees to the U.S. Circuit Courts.
We also made a strong statement about the shameful way that
the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell treated Judge Merrick Garland when
he refused to even allow him to have a confirmation hearing after he was
nominated by President Obama.
If there is anything that the Kavanaugh nomination has
taught us it is that the struggle to bring political and judicial philosophy
balance to the federal courts is protracted. It also demands that we embrace
the urgency of the realization that courts
matter. Those who are apprehensive
about the near complete transformation of our federal court system by the Trump
administration should consider joining
one of the state-based Why Courts Matter coalitions.