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NASW Update on Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to U.S. Supreme Court


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 Court justice.  

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 disabilities. ·  

  • NASW signed onto a Kavanagh opposition letter generated by the Coalition for Human Needs – a national coalition concerned with economic injustice and safety-net issues;
  • 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.   

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.