Don’t believe the news and political analysis that Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is a done deal, a panel of national pro-choice leaders and activists told Iowans this week.
While Iowa’s own Senator Chuck Grassley has been trying to push forward hearings for President Donald Trump’s choice to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy before all of Kavanaugh’s past documents are released, this past week’s developments in the Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort cases have created new problems. Several Democratic senators are now arguing that a president implicated in a crime that undermines the legitimacy of his presidency should not have his Supreme Court nomination go forward.
The national Rise Up For Roe tour that visited Des Moines on Friday night focused their outreach to pro-choice activists, but they recognized that the talking points to sway Grassley are likely different.
“The President has selected Kavanaugh because he has an expansive view on executive power,” former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said. “He has selected Kavanaugh because he knows the Mueller case has a good chance of going to the Supreme Court … Kavanaugh doesn’t even believe in the special counsel.”
If Kavanaugh’s nomination does succeed, the Supreme Court could lurch to the right on many fundamental rights that have been settled law for decades. Chief among those is abortion rights, which the speakers on Friday warned could quickly be restricted at the state level.
“These laws are just waiting to kick in assuming Roe on the federal level is gone,” Granholm noted, saying that 13 state-level abortion restrictions are already on their way to the Supreme Court, while 37 states have introduced some forms of restrictions.
And a full conservative majority would be bad news for a wide range of progressive policy priorities.
“With Kavanaugh, it’s not just Roe,” warned Alencia Johnson, Director of Public Engagement of Planned Parenthood. “It’s access to contraception. It’s LGBTQ rights. It’s voting rights.”
Although Republicans were able to block Merrick Garland’s nomination with little political consequences, NARAL President Ilyse Hughes explained that polling was starting to show how little support Kavanaugh has.
“[Republicans] have the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee in modern history, and that was before the Manafort and Cohen stuff broke,” Hughes said, adding that polls have also consistently shown broad support for the legality of Roe, even among Republicans. “This is not a question for most Americans. They believe these decisions belong in our hands.”
Everyone implored the close to 100 activists who showed up to continue calling their senators, showing up in their offices, attending their town halls and overall maintaining pressure on members of Congress.
“The people in this room, the folks in Des Moines, Iowa, are right now some of the most powerful people on the planet,” former Bernie Sanders press secretary Symone Sanders said. “Tell senator Grassley you do not want him to schedule that damn hearing! He can stop this tomorrow. Perhaps because the president is an un-indicted co-conspirator. Perhaps because we don’t have all the records. Maybe we should just slow this down.”
Pro-choice activists are rallying around the country today to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination.
by Pat Rynard