Pro-Lifers Know Brett Kavanaugh Stands With Them, Because He’s Done It Before

Opinion   |   Father Frank Pavone   |   Jul 11, 2018   |   1:40PM   |   Washington, DC

We at Priests for Life are grateful and encouraged by the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and are encouraging others to support him with confidence. That’s because Priests for Life has personally experienced Kavanaugh’s constitutional leadership. He was one of the appellate judges who helped Priests for Life during our battle with President Barack Obama’s overreach in his HHS mandate. Obamacare was bent on forcing our Catholic pro-life organization to act contrary to our mission and our consciences and offer abortifacients in our healthcare plan. Kavanaugh defended our religious freedom.

We saw what he was made of then. He is a true constitutionalist who helped uphold our First Amendment rights.

And we are not alone in our assessment. President Trump has conducted this nomination process with transparency, having shared his list of potential nominees with the public in advance. Trump built his campaign on the promises of whom he would appoint next on the Supreme Court, and this was a key motivating factor for many voters. In fact, exit polling in 2016 revealed that 21 percent of voters identified the Supreme Court vacancy as their most important issue. These voters overwhelmingly supported Trump (57 percent to 41 percent). And he has certainly delivered on his promises, starting with Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Trump didn’t go about his vetting process haphazardly. If anything can be said about the president, it is that he surrounds himself with an excellent team of advisers and experts. We trust him and those who have advised him in this selection. I have the greatest esteem for the people who have been involved in making this nomination happen, and have known some of them for many years. They are our kind of people — our friends and our allies. And they have as much desire as any of the rest of us to avoid any mistakes in this process.

Kavanaugh is not interested in legislating from the bench. Rather, he is the first to affirm that his job as justice would not be to invent law but to interpret it. And he has a high sensitivity, as expressed in our Priests for Life vs. HHS case, for the limited role of an appellate judge vis-a-vis the Supreme Court. He ruled in our favor, declaring that the government could advance its own interests in providing contraceptives without restricting our religious freedom not to be complicit in such activity. As an appellate judge, he expressed great deference to the Supreme Court’s suggestion that perhaps that government interest was compelling. But as a Supreme Court justice himself, he would obviously be more free to dissent from that point as well.

In his opinion, he argued that it is “crystal clear” that “when the Government forces someone to take an action contrary to his or her sincere religious belief . . . the Government has substantially burdened the individual’s exercise of religion.”

SIGN THE PETITION: Vote to Confirm Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

In short, I have no doubt about his pro-life, pro-family, and pro-freedom credentials. He understands and respects the Constitution as it was originally intended by its authors. So many activist Justices before him have overstepped their roles and created law from the bench, such as the invented right to seek and obtain an abortion. But as he stated in his remarks upon being confirmed, he does not take that approach. And that is why we do not need to worry if the president does not ask his position on Roe v. Wade, or if he does not answer the question when asked during his hearings.

The point is simple: If a right does not exist in the Constitution, a judge who refuses to add rights to the Constitution is not going find one there. That is what Trump meant when he said that the reversal of Roe would eventually happen “automatically” if he appointed judges who apply the Constitution rather than re-inventing it.

President Trump described such judges in these words:

Judges are not supposed to re-write the law, re-invent the Constitution, or substitute their own opinions for the will of the people expressed through their laws. We reject judicial activism and policy-making from the bench. The faithful application of the Constitution is the bedrock of our freedom, the foundation of our society, and the linchpin of our government.

Some, of course, will worry about judges being unpredictable or changing with time. But with Kavanaugh, we have a solid conservative track record. In fact, we have more than 300 opinions to read if we want to get a glimpse of his jurisprudence or of his philosophy. It has proven steady through the years, and is right there on paper.

Priests for Life believes Trump’s selection for the Supreme Court is a home run. Now our goal is to exhort our senators to confirm Kavanaugh swiftly and with bipartisan support. We urge Senate Democrats to avoid the smear tactics, distortions of the record, and ad hominem arguments that so characterize the Left, and to conduct this confirmation process with the dignity it deserves and with the respect that such a highly qualified nominee deserves as well.