President Donald Trump has nominated federal appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has taken the pro-life side in important cases and has very strong pro-life Bona fides — prompting leading pro-life groups to praise him for a sterling pro-life record.
President Trump applauded Judge Kavanaugh as someone who would apply the Constitution as written but Planned Parenthood launched a fierce attack the Supreme Court nominee, claiming he would “wreak havoc” on abortion.
In one of his most celebrated decisions, Judge Kavanaugh ruled against the Obama HHS mandate that forced Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the Poor and other Christian-run businesses and organizations to fund abortion drugs in their employee health care plans.
“When the Government forces someone to take an action contrary to his or her sincere religious belief (here, submitting the form) or else suffer a financial penalty (which here is huge), the Government has substantially burdened the individual’s exercise of religion. So it is in this case,” Kavanaugh wrote.
Priests for Life, a pro-life organization, was one of many that filed suit against the mandate and Kavanaugh ultimately sided with Priests for Life in its case against the HHS abortion mandate. Father Frank Pavone, National Director; Janet Morana, Executive Director, and Alveda King (niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.), full-time director of Civil Rights for the Unborn for Priests for Life, were named plaintiffs in the case. All of them informed LifeNews support Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“Judge Kavanaugh understands the importance of religious liberty to all Americans,” Father Pavone said in comments to Lifenews. “That was clear in his dissenting opinion in our case, Priests for Life vs. HHS, which eventually made it to the Supreme Court. He’s exactly the kind of justice we need on the Supreme Court at this point in time.”
Sarah Pitlyk, a former law clerk to Judge Kavanaugh and special counsel for the Thomas More Society, which is a leading pro-life legal group, says Kavanaugh has an excellent record and perhaps the best record of any of the finalists president Trump is considering. As she writes about the Priests for Life case:
During the Obama administration, he voted in Priests for Life v. HHS to invalidate the so-called accommodation to the contraceptive mandate, which required religious organizations to sign a form facilitating access to contraceptives for their employees. Judge Kavanaugh was one of few federal judges (Neil Gorsuch was another) to hold that the law imposed a “substantial burden” on the organizations’ exercise of religious liberty, and one of even fewer to conclude that the contraceptive-mandate accommodation violated the law. The Supreme Court later vindicated his position by vacating decisions that upheld the contraceptive-mandate accommodation.
Pitlyk also addressed a question some pro-life advocates have raised about Kavanaugh’s decision:
Second, some have wondered why Judge Kavanaugh in his Priests for Life opinion referred to a “compelling” government interest in providing women access to contraception. Again, there is a simple answer: He was describing the compelling interest that five Supreme Court justices had recognized in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (2014), which he was bound to apply as a lower-court judge. And after recognizing that interest, Judge Kavanaugh ruled in favor of Priests for Life, concluding that the Obamacare contraceptive-mandate accommodation violated their religious liberty — another conservative legal ruling that for social conservatives should only build confidence in his judicial philosophy.