By: Olivia Lyman
Did you know that the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment? This means that Brett Kavanaugh could undermine women’s health for decades to come. Beyond rolling back access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception, the Supreme Court will be making decisions surrounding other major health care issues. This includes possibly overturning the Affordable Care Act and cutting health coverage through Medicaid. Over the decades to come, these potential Supreme Court decisions will have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations everywhere, giving Kavanaugh tremendous power to make life-altering decisions.
Here are some specifics on why Brett Kavanaugh will almost certainly undermine women and LGBTQ+ people’s access to health care for decades to come if his nomination is confirmed:
Exhibit A: Preexisting conditions. During his campaign, Trump made it clear that he would do everything in his power to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Based on Kavanaugh’s past decisions, he is likely to threaten the ACA as well. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 64% of voters do not want the Supreme Court to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Before the Affordable Care Act, seeking treatment for domestic or sexual violence, having a cesarean birth, being pregnant, being transgender and much more all counted as pre-existing conditions. The Trump administration has also refused to defend the ACA in Texas vs. HHS, meaning laws that prohibit denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions are at risk, and a case could reach the Supreme Court in a few years.
Exhibit B: Section 1557. Section 1557, also known as the Health Care Rights Law, is in the process of being revised by the Trump administration. This key piece of the ACA prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, age or disability in health coverage and care. Weakening Section 1557 in any way would make the LGBTQ community, especially trans individuals, vulnerable to discrimination by health care providers. Women who have had or are seeking abortion services could also be discriminated against. Coalitions fighting to protect women’s health and LGBTQ+ health have had a lot of momentum in the past few years in the fight for equality. However, despite this progress and momentum, the Supreme Court and more specifically, Kavanaugh have the power to destroy much of this progress by upholding Trump’s discriminatory regulations.
Exhibit C: Kavanaugh’s problematic view on executive power. In 2011, the case of Seven-Sky v. Holder questioned whether the ACA’s individual mandate requiring every American to have health insurance was a legitimate exercise of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce. In 2011, Kavanaugh said, “under the constitution, the President may decline to enforce a statute that regulates private individuals when the President deems the statute unconstitutional, even if a court has held or would hold the statute constitutional.” Kavanaugh specifically argued that a president could decline to enforce a statute such as the ACA even if a court upholds its constitutionality. This is a view that could essentially allow Trump to pick and choose which legislation he would like to enforce.
Based on his previous court decisions, Brett Kavanaugh has a strong potential to undermine affordable health care along with immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ+ equality, and gun control for generations to come. Senators and the American people should not settle until Kavanaugh says explicitly whether or not he will uphold the precedents protecting the liberty of individuals to make personal decisions about their families, their bodies, and their medical care.
It is our responsibility to stand up, not just for women, but everyone. Call your senators at (202)-224-3121 to make your voice heard!
Target states and Senators include: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana. Let them know how important this vote is to you and your unique reality.
You can also participate in a #SaveSCOTUS event near you or join in the upcoming United for Justice Day of Action on August 26, non-coincidentally, Women’s Equality Day. All over the country, individuals are mobilizing to say NO to Kavanaugh and to contribute in the fight to protect human rights for all vulnerable populations everywhere. If you don’t see an event in your area, sign up to host one!