For the last twenty years, Community Catalyst has worked to expand access, reduce costs, and improve the quality of health care by working across the country and the political spectrum. We have an obligation to say something when we feel like those reforms, and most importantly, the care that families rely on, are in danger. Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the highest court in the land is an affront to our values, and threatens to reverse the last 20 years of progress and turn back the clock on civil rights and the social safety net.
The role of the United States Supreme Court justice is to ensure that every American’s constitutional rights are protected and that no branch or arm of the government is creating policies that benefit some while hurting others. And while we can’t know exactly how Brett Kavanaugh would rule in every case, there is sufficient cause in his record to strongly oppose this confirmation. We know he is hostile to both the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and reproductive rights and that he holds troubling views on executive power. The addition to the court of another justice hostile to the ACA and its protections for pre-existing conditions would pose a huge risk to American families who depend on these protections.
Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most conservative judges ever nominated to the Supreme Court, and he has made no secret of his feelings toward some of our most important public policy priorities. In 2011, after the passage of the ACA, he dissented from a D.C. Circuit Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of the law – a law that would go on to bring our nation’s uninsured rate to its lowest point in history. In 2015, he once again decried a different court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the ACA. Kavanaugh was a dissenting voice, disregarding the established protections for women’s access to no-cost birth control, and arguing that religious employers should have more latitude to deny their employees coverage for birth control based on the boss’s personal religious views.
Truly, millions of people’s health care is at stake based on the outcome of this confirmation process. There are already a number of cases working their way to the Supreme Court including the Kentucky lawsuit about Medicaid work requirements and Texas v. Azar, which could invalidate the entire ACA including Medicaid expansion for about 12 million people and important protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Kavanaugh, who interprets the Constitution as it was written (before women had any rights), has already made clear his position on abortion rights. He gave a speech praising Justice Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe v. Wade, calling the decision part of a “general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.” Further, in last year’s high-profile Garza v. Hargan case about an undocumented immigrant minor seeking an abortion, Kavanaugh dissented even though the minor met all the conditions to qualify for an abortion. Overturning the long-settled right to abortion established by the court in Roe in 1973 would take women backward, diminishing their freedom and opportunity. One in three women in America will have at least one abortion in her lifetime; most of those women already have children. Taking away abortion rights means taking away women’s ability to decide if, when and how many children they will have and limiting women’s control over their very destinies. The Supreme Court’s role should be to protect and guarantee individual freedoms for everyone, not to limit freedoms for the majority in order to satisfy the religious views of one group or one Justice.
Over time, we have been able to achieve critical advances in moving toward a health care system that gives everyone access to the health care they need to thrive – but we still have a long way to go. Policies that have had the greatest impacts on health equity – Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act – are currently under attack by this administration, which is why it is of paramount urgency that we fight for the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice who will protect consumers and protect equity.
Since our organization’s inception, we have dedicated ourselves to ensuring consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made – and that includes the U.S. Supreme Court.