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How Justice Kavanaugh Could Alter Landmark Cases

November 9th, 2018


Newly appointed Justice Kavanaugh could alter the outcome of many landmark cases that may appear before the Supreme Court.

Newly appointed Justice Kavanaugh could alter the outcome of many landmark cases that may appear before the Supreme Court.

At the beginning of July 2018, President Trump announced his decision to appoint Brett Kavanaugh to fill the spot left by the retirement of Justice Kennedy, and last month, Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in to the Supreme Court. While Justice Kavanaugh previously served on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he will now significantly influence numerous landmark cases that are mentioned on this blog. As a result, it is helpful for readers to understand some of the important details about where Justice Kavanaugh stands on a variety of issues.

Religious Liberty

Justice Kavanaugh issued an opinion that has received much attention in a case concerning the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been used by some employers to deny contraceptives to workers on the basis of religious perspectives. Kavanaugh’s dissent, in this case, argued that the religious freedoms of employers are impacted by being forced to allow workers access to contraceptive devices. In reference to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding these beliefs, Kavanaugh also briefly noted that the government has a compelling interest in helping workers obtain access to contraception even if the worker is employed by a religious company.

Roe v. Wade

Many concerned U.S. citizens are wondering whether Roe v. Wade will be overturned. The case of Roe v. Wade was one of the most significant landmark cases of last century. Decided in the 1970s, Roe had the effect of legalizing abortion. When asked about his personal opinion on Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh refused to provide a perspective but did comment he had the intent to uphold the case’s decision which suggests that he might uphold parts of Roe v. Wade. However, he has received criticism on the subject of abortion due to a dissent made in a case concerning an undocumented immigrant teenager who sought an abortion while being detained. During this opinion, he wrote that government interests exist in protecting fetal life and argued that the government is permitted to further these interests if an undue burden is not placed on a woman who is seeking an abortion. As a result, many people have understood Kavanaugh to be an opponent of abortion rights. After all, President Trump did promise to nominate only judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Same-Sex Marriage

The case of Obergefell v. Hodges was one of the landmark cases of this decade, as it granted same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states. Justice Kavanaugh has not been involved in any same-sex marriage cases, but he has argued that the Affordable Care Act violated an employer’s religious freedoms by requiring health insurance plans to cover the expenses associated with contraceptive devices for workers. It is not a stretch of the imagination to believe he may favor the religious freedom of county clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples or allow individual states to ban same-sex marriage. Indeed, most people who advocate for LGBT rights view Justice Kavanaugh as an immediate threat.

Following the Development of Landmark Cases

While it remains to be seen how Justice Kavanaugh will rule on these and other cases, this recent change on Supreme Court, where a pro-LGBT rights moderate, Justice Kennedy, was replaced with a solidly conservative Justice Kavanaugh, will likely have a significant impact on how many important landmark cases are decided. By reading the Universal Life Church’s blog each month, you can remain up to date with developments that affect LGBTQ rights, the interplay between religious freedom and school rights, and other important issues.

(image courtesy of Claire Anderson)

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