Progressive groups swing into action against Trump nominee Kavanaugh
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, in the East Room of the White House, July 9, in Washington. | Evan Vucci / AP

WASHINGTON—Blasting his consistent record against workers’ rights to unionize and women’s rights to reproductive choice, progressive groups swung into action against President Donald Trump’s nomination of federal appellate judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court literally minutes after Trump’s nod.

But not all the groups who blasted Kavanaugh promised to mobilize now. Instead, some appealed for money for the fight, without saying how they would use it to derail and defeat him. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said members would remember in November which senators voted for Kavanaugh.

The activists were different. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), for example, immediately launched television ads highlighting Kavanaugh’s stands in the states of two up-for-grabs GOP senators, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins. It urged Alaskan and Maine residents to lobby the two to vote against Kavanaugh.

NARAL Pro-Choice America started an ad campaign, too, announced by President Ilyse Hogue. Their ads ran in those two states, plus Colorado, Nevada, and Texas.

“Trump’s nominee Kavanaugh is an extreme choice for the Supreme Court,” one PCCC ad says. It summarizes “Kavanaugh’s key opinions,” including “Employers should be able to eviscerate union rights” and “Presidents—including Trump—are above the law and should never be indicted.” Another rotating summary in the ad calls the judge “stealthy on abortion.”

Politico reported that PCCC and other groups, including Indivisible, NARAL Pro-Choice America, People for the American Way, and are already planning “a massive mobilization next week” against Kavanaugh. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., wants a vote on Kavanaugh before the November election.

One of Kavanaugh’s “key opinions” highlighted in an ad from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Trump nominated Kavanaugh, a judge for the past 12 years on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C., to take the seat being vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s current “swing vote,” on July 31. Unlike Kennedy, Kavanaugh has a consistent record of pro-right-wing, anti-worker, and anti-woman rulings on that bench (see our previous analysis of his decisions).

He’s also said a president should not be subject to criminal indictments—or even to questioning—while in office. That leaves only impeachment as a remedy.

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

“Kavanaugh routinely rules against working families, regularly rejects employees’ right to receive employer-provided health care, (and) too often sides with employers in denying employees relief from discrimination in the workplace.

“The current Supreme Court has shown it will side with greedy corporations over working people whenever given the chance, and this nominee will only skew that further,” Trumka warned.

“Working people expect the Supreme Court to be the fairest and most independent branch of government in America. Any senator who believes Supreme Court justices should protect the rights of all Americans should reject this nomination and demand a nominee who will protect the rights of working people and uphold our constitutional values of liberty, equality, and justice for all.”

Other groups were also specific in their denunciations. Those appealing for money added they expect the right wing to launch a multimillion-dollar ad campaign for Kavanaugh. For Trump’s prior nominee, Neil Gorsuch, the right spent at least $17 million, the Alliance for Justice reported.

And Gorsuch was not a “swing vote” on the High Court, while Kavanaugh would replace the swing vote, Kennedy.

“Right-wing extremists could make their mark on our justice system for generations if Trump gets his way,” PCCC spokeswoman Marissa Barrow said.  “Kavanaugh is handpicked by far-right ideologues and corporate interests. He has a controversial record that would deeply damage our democratic principles and civil liberties.” He also “routinely sided with corporations over working families.”

“This is one of the biggest fights of our lifetime. Write your senators and urge them to reject the nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

“Kavanaugh was hand-picked for Trump by fringe groups because he would be a reliable vote on the Supreme Court to undermine Roe v Wade”—the decision legalizing reproductive rights—“and destroy access to health care for millions,” said Nan Aron, executive director of the Alliance for Justice.

An ad from NARAL Pro-Choice America

Voting against Roe v Wade was Trump’s “litmus test” for a High Court judge, though at his Kavanaugh press conference Trump claimed he did not ask nominees their personal views, but only whether they were “originalists.” “Originalism,” referring to the supposed original limited government intentions of the Constitution’s authors, is a code-word for right-wing views.

“Kavanaugh’s record shows us how serious the threat to the court really is. He has established a record that shows his lack of commitment to consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, clean air and water, and the fundamental principle that no president is above the law,” Aron said. “That’s unacceptable for someone who wants to sit on our highest court.”

Kavanaugh “wrote a scathing dissent of a decision allowing an undocumented young woman, Jane Doe, access to abortion care, allowed an anti-choice organization to bring its argument that employers should be able to control employees’ reproductive health and bodies into the case against the Affordable Care Act, and under George W. Bush, oversaw the nomination of the most extreme anti-choice judicial nominees ever seen,” NARAL’s Hogue said.  Including lower-court judges, “Only Donald Trump has surpassed Bush in appointing extremist nominees.”


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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.