A coalition of 18 secular organizations have signed onto a letter opposing the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, because his “speeches and writings reveal a level of biased, ideological fervor” that shouldn’t be rewarded with a lifetime appointment.
The letter was sent to Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
While there are many reasons to oppose his confirmation, like his almost certain vote against legal abortions, this letter focuses on Kavanaugh’s beliefs that religion always trumps non-religion even during secular events.
In 2010, when non-theists challenged prayers said before the Presidential inauguration, Judge Kavanaugh declared the prayers constitutional, going so far as to say that “inaugural prayers are traditionally inclusive and largely non-sectarian,” despite references to “Lord,” “God,” and “Jesus.” His concurrence demonstrated a clear preference for Christian sects and beliefs at the expense of minority religions and nonbelievers.
Judge Kavanaugh repeated the same discriminatory ideology in a brief submitted to the US Supreme Court in a case challenging prayer before a high school football game. He argued that the Constitution requires schools to permit students to deliver prayers, as they are a fundamental part of national tradition, completely ignoring the impact that those prayers have on the adherents of minority religions and the non-religious…
Kavanaugh has also expressed a preference for faith-based discrimination.
… Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated that he would likely allow religious freedom laws to be used to harm others. In 2015, he authored a dissent arguing that a requirement for religious organizations to fill out a form merely to inform the government that they would not be providing their employees, many holding differing religious beliefs, coverage for contraception was a substantial burden on the organization’s Free Exercise…
The summary is blunt:
The letter was signed by leaders of the following groups:
His appointment would cause grave harm to the wall of separation between religion and government and true realization of religious liberty within our society.
Secular Coalition for America
American Ethical Union
American Humanist Association
Atheist Alliance of America
Black Nonbelievers, Inc.
Center for Inquiry
Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations
Ex-Muslims of North America
Foundation Beyond Belief
Freedom from Religion Foundation
Hispanic Americans Freethinkers
Institute for Humanist Studies
Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
Recovering From Religion
Secular Student Alliance
Society for Humanistic Judaism
Will it make a difference? That’s the wrong question. The senators will vote in whatever way they think will suit their own agendas. But these letters suggest that a large group of voters, represented by these groups, oppose Kavanaugh — and will vote against any senators supporting him.
We often hear people complaining about the lack of secular representation on Capitol Hill, but this is what representation looks like. It’s when large groups amplify your voice by working with like-minded groups and pushing against bad policies and awful appointments. Letters like these need to keep getting sent. At some point, as the nation’s demographics change, politicians will realize we’re a constituency they can’t keep ignoring.
By the way, the official press release about this letter includes a statement from Rep. Jared Huffman, one of the founding members of the Congressional Freethought Caucus. Huffman doesn’t get to vote on Kavanaugh, but he knows what Kavanaugh confirmation would do to church/state separation.
“Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination would be a wrecking ball to the vital separation between church and state,” said Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA)… “He has a disappointing record of upholding special exemptions for certain religions, at the expense of women’s reproductive rights, a quality public education system, and overall religious freedom. I applaud the efforts of these champions for religious freedom in urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and protect the secular character of our government.”
Now it’s time for the five other members of the Caucus to step up and sign similar letters in the future. We need their voices more than ever in times like these.