Letters & Op-Eds 2018
The Hill

Our values are at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination

Advocates in Washington, D.C. are no doubt watching every word from Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination proceedings to parse out what he says or doesn’t say about reproductive freedoms and other progressive causes. But ultimately we know that much of the posturing taking place during these proceedings is simply that — posturing and pageantry to appear as palatable and inoffensive a candidate as possible to get confirmed to the country’s highest court.

I just wish that another audience were watching and considering the merits of this candidate to the Supreme Court — who will surely be the deciding vote in some of the most consequential issues that will test the direction of our country for generations to come. I wish they had the motivation, desire and energy to hear what is going on. And what Brett Kavanaugh might mean for the future of American values.

The audience I envision includes fellow Catholics immigrants who have recent memories of why they and their families came to this country in search of freedom. They may have voted for President Trump, but have grown disillusioned with his cruel and combative actions towards immigrants and refugees, especially his most inhumane disregard for the sacred bonds of family.

They should ask themselves — can we defend a nominee that will uphold President Trump’s separation of families? Does Kavanaugh’s known decisions on immigration stand up to our faith’s tradition of social justice? Do his corporatist rulings arguing that migrants do not have labor rights reflect our faith’s empathy for the marginalized?

The audience I envision includes fellow citizens who revere the right of every woman to make her own moral choices over her body — who see this fundamental right transcending partisan politics. But who find their voices are shut out from the Republican Party, and the Democrats sometimes seem dangerously willing to trade in these rights as well.

Some of these citizens may have voted for President Trump in the hopes that he might bring about more job opportunities for communities in economic decline. And yet they have grown alarmed in seeing that his administration seems more seized with cheap political gains by robbing women of their basic access to family planning and other healthcare that actually helps them thrive economically.

Perhaps they never considered that Roe v. Wade should not and cannot be taken for granted. Perhaps they didn’t realize to what extent this administration would rely on the religious right as a crutch to stay in power and how their special interests would be privileged above the needs and interests of all other citizens.

Today, shouldn’t they ask whether Kavanaugh can be trusted to uphold a woman’s constitutional right to choose? What makes us think he won’t side with those seeking to destroy Roe directly or indirectly by chipping away access to abortion care? Can he ever be an ally of women when he so willingly sided with corporate interests seeking to strip women of basic coverage for birth control? Is it morally acceptable that he so vehemently disregarded a migrant woman’s right to choose?

I hope these fellow citizens will consider what it really means if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court. If his religious privilege agenda truly serves the interests of all citizens. If he will respect our basic freedoms that allow all of us — regardless of creed, income or background — to thrive. If he can be trusted to safeguard the values of all and not a privileged few. Because that is what’s at stake for now and for future generations to come.

Jon O’Brien is the president of Catholics for Choice.

This piece was originally published by The Hill. 

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