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Urge the Senate to reject the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court

On July 31, 2018, the Reform Jewish Movement announced opposition to the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. An examination of Judge Kavanaugh’s record makes it clear that his elevation to the Supreme Court would significantly jeopardize or adversely affect the most fundamental rights the Reform Movement has long supported. These rights, rooted deeply in enduring Jewish values as expressed in biblical, rabbinic, and modern sources, are specifically articulated in our Movement’s resolutions and illustrate our commitment to the principles of justice, equality, the rule of law, and compassion. The recent allegations of sexual assault by Judge Kavanaugh have added urgency to our concerns.

It is the Senate’s responsibility to provide advice and consent to the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court. In these final hours, tell your Senators to vote no on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.


Background:

On June 27, 2018 Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. On July 9, President Trump announced his nomination of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

The Reform Movement’s decision to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination was guided by the criteria established in the 2002 Union for Reform Judaism Resolution on Judicial, Executive Branch, and Independent Agency Nominations and the 2017 Central Conference of American Rabbis Resolution on Judicial, Executive Branch, and Federal Agency Appointees. The resolutions are almost identical in stating that we will “oppose a nominee if after consideration of what the nominee has said and written, and his or her record, it believes that a compelling case can be made that the appointment would threaten protection of the most fundamental rights which our Movement supports (including, but not limited to, the separation of church and state, protection of civil rights and civil liberties, women’s reproductive freedom, Israel’s security, and protection of the environment).” The resolutions then outline considerations that should be weighed in making this determination.

The Reform Movement underwent a deliberative process, including hearing from representatives of organizations supporting and opposing the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, and consulting with lay and rabbinic congregational leaders.

The decision to oppose the nomination was not made lightly. The URJ has only taken a position on three Supreme Court nominees, opposing Judge Robert Bork, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. The URJ chose not to oppose Chief Justice Roberts or Justice Gorsuch, although they had expressed views on issues that differed sharply from our Movement’s positions. One important consideration was that replacing Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Scalia, respectively, did little to shift the Court’s jurisprudence and balance. In contrast, Justice Alito’s replacement of Justice O’Connor was perceived as a potentially significant shift.

Similarly, the elevation of Judge Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court will likely shift the ideological balance of the Court, significantly and detrimentally reshaping American jurisprudence. Justice Kennedy cast the deciding vote on numerous cases during his tenure. These include cases where his vote made the difference in affirming the Reform Movement’s long-held positions on reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, the environment and criminal justice reform. Challenges to the right to abortion, access to contraception, the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, work requirements for Medicaid and other safety net programs, the environment, civil rights, civil liberties, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, religious liberty, immigration and more could all come to the Supreme Court in the coming years and, if past patterns hold, be decided by 5-4 votes. If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh will likely tip the balance of the Court and roll back advances which, inspired by Jewish values, we have fought so hard for over the past century.

Our concerns about Judge Kavanaugh are also grounded in his extensive record. As a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and in his writings, Judge Kavanaugh has evidenced a judicial philosophy that would curtail women’s reproductive rightsweaken workers’ rightsoppose gun violence prevention measuresthreaten the protections of freedom of religion by breaking down the separation of church and statechallenge environmental protections and undermine voting rights. This record puts Judge Kavanaugh in strong opposition to long-held policy positions and core values of the Reform Jewish Movement.

Jewish Values:

If confirmed, Judge Kavanagh will have the opportunity to influence Supreme Court decision on issues and rights that are of core concern to the Reform Movement. These rights are rooted deeply in enduring Jewish values as expressed in biblical, rabbinic and modern sources, and are specifically articulated in our Movement’s resolutions. These include URJ and CCAR resolutions on Abortion (CCAR, 1975), Reform of the Health Care System (URJ, 1993), Workers' Rights In The United States (URJ, 2005), Climate Justice (CCAR, 2015) and Assault weapons and high capacity magazine ban (CCAR, 2018).