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Nation reacts to Brett Kavanaugh nomination to Supreme Court

Brett Kavanaugh appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in April, 2004. | AP Photo/Dennis Cook

President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Monday to fill the vacancy created with the retirement Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Supporters and opponents swiftly chimed into the political battle ahead as Trump seeks 50 votes in the Senate to confirm Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge in Washington, D.C. Here are some of those reactions:

U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-IL. Durbin is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The next Justice will likely be the deciding vote on whether Americans will keep affordable health insurance for pre-existing conditions, whether women will lose the freedom to make their own health care choices, and whether we have a Constitution that protects the rights of all Americans or just big corporations and wealthy elites.

Brett Kavanaugh is a judge who consistently favors big business and undermines protections for consumers, workers, women, and the environment. Replacing Justice Kennedy’s swing vote with a far-right jurist like Judge Kavanaugh could change the rules in America. Just as troubling, in light of the ongoing Russia investigation, Judge Kavanaugh has expressed staunch opposition to criminal investigations of sitting Presidents. With a subservient Republican Congress and a far-right Supreme Court, there is a real risk that the worst impulses of the Trump presidency will go unchecked. The stakes for this nomination are historic.

U.S Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-IL.

“The newfound urgency to fill Justice Kennedy’s Supreme Court seat from many of the same people who refused to even consider President Obama’s nominee is transparent opportunism that represents everything Americans hate most about politics today. We can’t ignore the reality that Donald Trump wants to take us back to a time when insurers could refuse coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or that he promised to only nominate Justices who would put the government back in between women and their doctors. If he succeeds, it won’t only affect people like me who could be prevented from having children through IVF; the impacts will be felt by everyone. Whoever replaces Justice Kennedy will play a critical role in the lives of all women and every single American. Moving forward, I will thoroughly review Judge Kavanaugh’s rulings, evaluate his qualifications and look for him to make it clear to the American public that he would be independent, not simply a rubber stamp for Donald Trump’s whims, if he hopes to earn my support.”

Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan

“President Trump has said he would only consider Supreme Court candidates who will roll back women’s most fundamental rights, restrict access to health care and impose a narrow special interest agenda on Americans for 40 years or more,” Madigan said. “As Trump continues putting his own extreme ideology ahead of what’s best for the country, it’s up to senators to insist on a candidate who will respect the law and precedent, instead of a right-wing ideologue whose goal is to move the court to the right and enforce minority rule on our country from the bench for a generation. And it is now up to each and every one of us to hold our elected leaders accountable.”

JB Pritzker, Democratic candidate for Governor

“Donald Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court could upend the rights of communities across Illinois and considering that Bruce Rauner is in ‘constant communication’ with the White House, I call on this governor to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination in full force. It is an attempt by Donald Trump to remake the court in his own, hateful image and will leave us with a judicial branch that sides with special interests instead of vulnerable communities. A woman’s right to choose is on the line, LGBTQ rights could be rolled back, affordable healthcare could be brought down, fair housing, consumer protections, and environmental protections could all be decimated.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-WI.

“President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh shows his commitment to selecting judges who are themselves committed to this restraint. Judge Kavanaugh will bring extensive experience to the Supreme Court; his long career exemplifies public service and, in particular, dedication to religious liberty. He has shown that Constitutional principles are the ultimate guide for his opinions. I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s swift confirmation in the Senate. This is an excellent choice.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.

Judge Kavanaugh has sterling academic credentials. He is widely admired for his intellect, experience, and exemplary judicial temperament. He has won the respect of his peers and is highly regarded throughout the legal community. And his judicial record demonstrates a firm understanding of the role of a judge in our Republic: Setting aside personal views and political preferences in order to interpret our laws as they are written.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-IL.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME.

“Judge Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and extensive experience, having served more than a decade on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.I will conduct a careful, thorough vetting of the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as I have done with the five previous Supreme Court Justices whom I have considered. I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to questioning him in a meeting in my office.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (IA): “Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees to come before the Senate. His credentials are well known, and he’s served with distinction as a judge on the esteemed D.C. Circuit for more than a decade. He is a superb mainstream candidate worthy of the Senate’s consideration.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV.

“The Supreme Court will ultimately decide if nearly 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions will lose their healthcare. This decision will directly impact almost 40% of my state, so I’m very interested in his position on protecting West Virginians with pre-existing conditions. As I have always said, I believe the Senate should hold committee hearings; Senators should meet with him, we should debate his qualifications on the Senate floor and cast whatever vote we believe he deserves. I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh, examining his rulings and making a determination of whether to provide my consent.”

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA. Issa is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts.

“Brett Kavanaugh is an exemplary choice for the United States Supreme Court. He has shown unwavering support in defending the Constitution, our nation’s founding principles, and the rule of law. A renowned writer and thinker, Kavanaugh studies the law as originally intended, decides difficult cases impartially, and understands the Federal Government is a creature of the Constitution – and nothing else.”

Kwame Raoul, Democratic candidate for Attorney General

“I am incredibly disappointed that Donald Trump has put so many critical protections on the line, including the right to access abortion safely and legally. I will not stand by and allow my children to have fewer rights than my generation or see Illinoisans made vulnerable to federal attacks on healthcare, voting rights, the environment, the rights of workers or the importance of diversity on college campuses. Illinois now has laws protecting access to abortion in case Roe v. Wade is overturned, but Illinoisans must be able to trust their Attorney General to enforce these laws and defend them in court. That’s why it’s more important than ever to elect leaders who will fight back and be a strong advocate for women and victims of assault, not just a bystander to the attacks. So much hangs in the balance, and I urge the Senate to reject this nominee.”

Leonard Leo, an outside advisor to the President for Judicial Selection. On leave as executive vice president of the Federalist Society.

“Brett Kavanaugh is among the most distinguished and respected judges in the country, with nearly 300 opinions that clearly demonstrate fairness and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution as it’s written and enforcing the limits on government power contained in the Constitution.”

Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“We oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and call on the Senate to do the same. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: with this nomination, the constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion in this country is on the line. We already know how Brett Kavanaugh would rule on Roe v. Wade, because the president told us so. We take Trump at his word that Brett Kavanaugh would overturn Roe v. Wade and get rid of the Affordable Care Act. The balance of the Supreme Court is at stake — we cannot allow it to be tilted against the constitutional right to access abortion. Generations of women, especially women of color, will be affected. And generations of people have grown up only knowing a country where they have the right to access safe, legal abortion. We cannot allow our children and grandchildren to have fewer rights than we do today.”

U.S. Senator Tina Smith, D-MN.

“This is a pivotal moment for our country–the person who fills this seat long held by Justice Kennedy will shape the course of American democracy for decades,” said Sen. Smith. “I had hoped that the President would appoint a consensus Justice, a person ready to protect the rights of all Americans over special interests and groups driven by political ideology.”

Democratic National Committee

Already this year, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court sanctioned attacks on workers’ rights, further threatened a woman’s right to choose, upheld the discriminatory Muslim ban, and supported voter suppression efforts in Ohio — and that was before Justice Kennedy stepped down. So you better believe that with Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, Roe v. Wade, affordable health care, labor unions, and civil rights will all be on the chopping block.

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ.

“In nominating Judge Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice, the Trump Administration is once again showing brazen disregard for the people it claims to protect. Judge Kavanaugh’s dangerous views on the Second Amendment are far outside the mainstream of even conservative thought and stand in direct opposition to the values and priorities of the vast majority of Americans. America needs a Supreme Court justice who respects the Second Amendment but who also realizes reasonable regulations that reduce gun violence do not infringe on anyone’s constitutional rights. But that’s not the kind of justice President Trump nominated today.

Emily’s List

“One of Donald Trump’s biggest campaign promises was to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade and do the right wing’s bidding, and we take him at his word that he has chosen just that candidate. Whether he’s attempting to defund Planned Parenthood, reinstating the global gag rule, rolling back the contraception mandate, or appointing a wave of anti-choice judges to lifetime appointments, Trump has made it clear that he keeps his promises to slash women’s rights and access to health care. Any nominee — including Kavanaugh, handpicked by right-wing groups for his views on abortion rights, among other issues — who supports overturning Roe or placing even further restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care is unfit to serve the American people; full stop.”

March for Life

“President Trump has chosen another strong nominee in Judge Brett Kavanaugh. A graduate of Yale College and Law School, Judge Kavanaugh’s experience includes clerking for Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, service in the Executive Branch, private practice experience, and most recently twelve years working on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition to Kavanaugh’s excellent professional qualifications, he is a man of faith, a family man, and a girls basketball coach. He is exceptionally qualified for the role and will no doubt serve as a fair, independent judge who will remain faithful to the Constitution. According to the 2016 presidential election exit polls, one in five voters reported their primary motivating factor in voting was the Supreme Court, and of those voters, President Trump won a resounding 57%. We thank President Trump for delivering on his campaign promise by choosing another Gorsuch-like nominee. March for Life will work to assure that Judge Kavanaugh has a fair confirmation process so that we and the American public can learn more about this qualified nominee.”

American Family Association

“Judge Kavanaugh’s reasoning on religious liberty, Obamacare and issues concerning life have proven to be of major concern,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “For these and other reasons, we are calling on citizens to urge their senators to firmly oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as a Justice on the United States Supreme Court.” “Judge Kavanaugh is simply the wrong nominee—even a bad nominee,” Wildmon added. “Based on his written opinions, Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated a deficiency in a constitutional judicial philosophy of a limited judiciary. Some of his decisions may have been favorable, but several of his opinions contain problematic language.”


Brett Kavanaugh is a dangerous ideologue whose extreme views on civil rights would solidify a far right majority on the Supreme Court. Coming after Neil Gorsuch’s appointment, a Kavanaugh confirmation would re-make the Court in President Trump’s own image. This prospect is unacceptable to the American people, and the NAACP is ready to lead the fight of a generation. With a Justice Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, we could see reversals of hard-won gains securing equal opportunity in education, employment and housing.  We could see further exclusion of communities of color from participation in our democracy.  We could see racism continue to flourish within the criminal justice system.  We could see the elimination of effective tools for proving discrimination.  We could see the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the guarantee to accessible health care for millions.

Action Center on Race and Economy (ACRE) Co-Executive Director Maurice BP-Weeks

Tonight’s announcement threatens to destroy decades of progress made by our nation’s most vulnerable communities, and it locks in a white supremacist agenda from Capitol to the White House to the halls of our nation’s highest courts. People of color, women and so many other folks pushed to the margins of America have already lost so much under this administration’s racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant, corporations-first policies. Things will only get worse with Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Trump’s nominee.We’ve already seen decisions restricting union organizing, barring Muslims from traveling to our shores, and gutting voting rights. With this new nominee, we have now opened the door to ending a woman’s right to choose, affirmative action, and other major rights that protect black, brown and the poor.

Kelly Shackelford, First Liberty CEO

“As a group dedicated to defending religious freedoms, we are thrilled to have a Supreme Court nominee who has such a solid history and commitment to protecting the religious freedoms and First Amendment rights of our citizens. Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated in his time on the bench a deep respect for the proper role of the judiciary. His opinions have consistently adhered to our founding principles that government exists to protect the God-given rights of the people and the Constitution exists to prevent government from infringing on those rights.”

Muslim Civil Rights Group

“Given President Trump’s notorious and well-documented hostility toward Muslims, immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and women, Americans need — and deserve — a Supreme Court justice who will protect all Americans and not be a rubber-stamp for the President’s discriminatory and bigoted policies. Unfortunately, Kavanaugh will only further threaten to erode our nation’s promise of freedom, justice and equality for all. Based on his judicial and professional record, Kavanaugh on the court would give Trump a green light to put his bigoted agenda in place without checks, without balances, and without regard to the rule of law.”

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

“It would be an abdication of their constitutional responsibility to merely rubber stamp Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. We will use every tool in our arsenal to ensure that Judge Kavanaugh is fully and properly vetted by the Senate”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten

“This nominee will determine the direction of the United States for generations, dramatically affecting millions of American lives. As citizens, we expect the Supreme Court to dispassionately interpret the Constitution and the protections it enshrines. Yet we’ve watched as recent decisions have protected the privileged and powerful at the expense of the rest of us. Based on the evidence, Judge Kavanaugh is no different. His rulings raise very serious concerns about where he stands on key issues like employees’ right to organize, workplace discrimination, voting rights, marriage equality, access to reproductive healthcare and corporate responsibility. Equally important, Judge Kavanaugh has written that a president should not be subject to subpoena or indictment, writings that, given the current Mueller investigation, should have been disqualifying. This willingness to allow this president to operate above the law and the eagerness to overturn well-established precedent are an affront to mainstream democratic values.”

Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights

Today, with the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, the President is presumably making good on his Roe-reversal promise. Every Senator should assume that is the case, absent a clear and compelling statement from the nominee that he agrees with the rationale and premise of Roe v. Wade—that the right to abortion is among the Constitution’s guaranteed personal liberty rights.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue

“We can’t forget what America was like before Roe and we know the reality today for so many women in so many states across the nation where our right to make the most fundamental decisions about our bodies, our families, and our lives has been all but eradicated. Kavanaugh would use the Court as a tool to doom all women to that fate. Ending Roe doesn’t end abortion; it simply means we have a country where abortion is illegal and women and doctors become criminals. Kavanaugh recently argued that a young woman, despite meeting all of Texas’ burdensome requirements to get an abortion, should not be permitted to access essential healthcare. He has also been a long time conservative activist working to elect anti-choice politicians. It is clear that he will be a reliable vote to end Roe v. Wade, criminalize abortion, and punish women.”

Tea Party Express Co-Founder and Chief Strategist Sal Russo

“We are excited that President Trump has chosen an eminently qualified Supreme Court nominee like Judge Kavanaugh who has an extensive and respectable record. He has already been confirmed by the U.S. Senate for his appointment to the DC Court of Appeals, and he should receive a bipartisan vote from the Senate now. Hopefully, the Democrats in the Senate will cease their endless partisan attacks and vote approvingly for seating Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.”

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life

“Those of us who worked so hard to elect President Trump, and who will work even harder to re-elect him, are enjoying one of our proudest moments tonight. These are the kinds of decisions that motivate us to elect leaders like President Trump.”

Melissa Fowler, National Abortion Federation (NAF)

We need a Supreme Court justice who will honor established precedent, including the constitutional right to privacy and Roe v. Wade, and that is not Judge Brett Kavanaugh. We urge Senators to carefully scrutinize Kavanaugh’s record, and vote against this nominee, as he would jeopardize the lives and health of women and families in America.


Kavanaugh is one of the most cravenly partisan choices Trump could have made. He’s been called the “Forrest Gump of Republican politics,” as he seems to always show up in high-stakes, far-right political battles and conspiracy theories.Both because of his partisan allegiances and his views on presidential powers, Kavanaugh’s nomination could shield Trump from facing accountability for his crimes and corruption. Kavanaugh once wrote a law review article declaring that presidents should be free from criminal investigations. Also, while taking a shot at the Affordable Care Act in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, he wrote a lengthy opinion asserting that presidents can decline to enforce laws that they think are unconstitutional, even if courts disagree.


Judge Kavanaugh has a dangerous track record of protecting the privileges of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of working people. Any Supreme Court nominee must be fair, independent and committed to protecting the rights, freedoms and legal safeguards of all Americans. Judge Kavanaugh does not meet this standard and must not be confirmed.

Democracy for America (DFA) Chair Jim Dean

“Donald Trump’s decision to nominate a reactionary ideologue like Brett Kavanaugh and shift the balance of the U.S. Supreme Court even further right represents a generational assault on justice, freedom, and our country’s core democratic values.If Brett Kavanaugh survives the confirmation process, He will rapidly advance a fringe right agenda on the court that will accelerate plutocratic control of our economy and politics, actively undermine the steps our country must take towards greater racial equity, and directly lead to the deaths of countless women with the dismantling of abortion rights.”

Equality Illinois

Judge Kavanaugh’s record must adhere to our core constitutional values: equal protection under the law, the dignity of each person, and the freedom to be who you are without burden or discrimination. This is particularly critical now, at a time when the civil rights of LGBTQ people are under attack by the Trump Administration.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

“Kavanaugh has consistently ruled for the wealthy and powerful over the rights of workers, consumers, and women seeking access to health care. In three cases upholding aspects of the Affordable Care Act, he dissented in each of them. And he has consistently sided with industry and ruled against environmental protections. His record demonstrates that he will not uphold Supreme Court precedent that the Constitution protects individual liberty and the right of all people to make personal decisions about their bodies and their personal relationships.


Who is Brett Kavanaugh?