In our 50-year history, we have rarely taken positions on Supreme Court nominations.
But our country’s judicial system has a pivotal role in protecting Americans from harm, and that duty has become even more critical since the 2016 election, in light of an administration willing to stretch the boundaries of the law and moral decency to terrorize, divide and separate communities and families. At a time when the Trump administration is fomenting racial hatred and undermining the rights of many Americans, including Latinos, our community has much riding on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s successor. The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the high court by this president is a step we cannot ignore.
Many critical civil rights issues will come before the court in the coming years. We urged Senators to probe three in particular, during the hearings: Kavanaugh’s views on workers, voting rights, and the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
On worker rights, Judge Kavanaugh has dissented with well-settled legal precedents that protect workers from exploitation and unsafe working conditions (SeaWorld v. Perez, Agri Processor Co. v. NLRB). This is extremely concerning for all American workers, and particularly for Latinos, who are more likely to work in occupations where unsafe environments lead to injury and even death, and for immigrant workers, who are especially susceptible to exploitation by unscrupulous employers.
Then there are Kavanaugh’s views on the Affordable Care Act, which provides more than four million Latino adults and 600,000 Latino children with access to health coverage and is being sabotaged by President Trump. During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh declined to say if he would uphold the law requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, given his dissent in a circuit court case that affirmed the constitutionality of the ACA.
Finally, we are concerned that Kavanaugh lacks a real commitment to justice and equality for all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. While he has acknowledged that discrimination is real, he has a track record of opposing policies designed to address it. His record on voting rights—which includes upholding a restrictive South Carolina voter ID law—confirms that and is of grave concern to the voters, such as African-American and Latino voters, who are more likely to encounter hurdles at the polls.
Judge Kavanaugh had an opportunity to assert if he believes the progress we have made as a nation in these and other areas is irreversible and set the record straight on his ability to be fair and open in hearing cases in areas of great concern. In our view, he failed to do so.
Far from offering reassurance, Kavanaugh’s vague testimony and troubling public record suggest that he’ll turn a blind eye to Trump’s cruelty towards our community and pose a danger to Latinos’ hard-won progress on labor, health care, education, and voting rights.
We urge the Senate to reject his confirmation.
Janet Murguía is President and CEO of UnidosUS.
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