Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Senator submits letter signed by FFRF in Kavanaugh hearing

Vol. 35 No. 8 October 2018
Sen. Mazie Hirono                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

She also called him out on his stances on state-church separation

On Sept. 5, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, submitted into the record of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing a letter organi

zed by the Secular Coalition of America and signed by FFRF urging senators to reject his nomination.

FFRF proudly signed onto this letter, which pointed out that Kavanaugh’s nomination is a threat to the constitutional order of the United States and to the religious liberty of all Americans. “Judge Kavanaugh’s record and writings demonstrate support for the entanglement of religion and government, and he has continuously argued in favor of religious coercion above the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and individual liberty,” the letter states.

To safeguard the constitutional separation between church and state, which FFRF views as the crown jewel of the Bill of Rights, the Senate must reject Kavanaugh’s nomination. (This edition of Freethought Today went out before the vote was taken.)

The letter focused on state-church issues, but also the single most important issue any new Supreme Court justice is likely to decide, the Religious Right’s attempt to redefine and weaponize religious freedom: “Religious freedom means the right to choose a religion, or none at all, without interference by the government, and simultaneously prevents religious authorities from interfering with our system of government and law. Religious practices, if used to excuse oneself from the law, would ‘make the professed doctrines of religious belief the law of the land, and in effect, to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.’ Historically, the Supreme Court, like the Founders before them, has believed such a system to be unworkable.”

Hirono alerted the American people to a staggering contradiction between two of his opinions as a federal judge.

Hirono hammered Kavanaugh for his anti-woman hypocrisy in two cases, Garza and Priests for Life, that he ruled on two years apart.

In Garza in 2017, Kavanaugh declared that forcing a teenager to carry a pregnancy to term was not an “undue burden” on her rights. In Priests for Life in 2015, he argued that filling out a two-page, five-blank form was a “substantial burden” on religion.

The stances that Kavanaugh took in these two cases are irreconcilable or, as Hirono twice said, his position “defies logic.” Kavanaugh is perfectly willing to protect unconstitutional religious privilege and violate the rights of women.

Kavanaugh’s only response was very lame: “precedent.” There’s just one problem with that response: He was writing in dissent in both cases. In other words, even his colleagues thought that he was not applying precedent correctly. Hirono made a nice follow-up statement about using precedent when and how it suits your needs — in these cases to rule against women’s reproductive rights. As FFRF has warned in the past, judicial nominees who claim to blindly apply precedent as “textual originalists” are usually hiding outright judicial activism. Sen. Hirono exposed this brilliantly — and not a moment too soon.