September 18, 2018
RE: Young People Call on You to Oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation to the Supreme Court
Today, our bodies, lives, and futures hang in the balance as we face the possibility of a Supreme Court Justice whose decisions will deny our rights and harm our communities for decades to come. As youth-led and serving organizations, we are outraged and alarmed by the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and the devastating repercussions he would have on the lives of young people in this country. As the largest voting bloc in the country, we are writing to strongly urge you to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
This is more than one vote—this is a moral vote for our present and our futures. Kavanaugh is a threat to all of our hard-earned and critical rights. Rights which, shamefully, have never been equitably accessible to all people in this country. But instead of working to expand and promote justice for all, Kavanaugh would dismantle critical protections and plunge us further into oppression. We want to be very clear: as young people working towards justice, we know that true liberation is shared. We will not apologize for having the audacity to believe that equal protection under the law means equal for all, not just for those who can afford it. We will not allow Kavanaugh to deepen existing inequities, to pick and choose whose futures are worth protecting.
A vote to confirm Kavanaugh is a decision to silence our voices in the decisions made about our bodies, our lives, and our futures. Throughout his career, Kavanaugh has argued in favor of further disenfranchising already marginalized communities in our workplaces and throughout our democracy. In Howard v. Office of Chief Admin. Officer of U.S. House of Representatives, he argued a Congressional staffer had no right to bring her racial discrimination case to court; he argued there should be no judicial oversight to ensure she receives equal and just treatment in her workplace. In Agri Processor Co. v. N.L.R.B, he voted to deny workers representation at the bargaining table because he deems undocumented workers a “taint” on union elections.
The threat to representation continues from our workplaces into our very electoral process. Kavanaugh’s approval of voter ID laws in South Carolina v. United States and voter roll purges denies too many the right to participate in our democracy. Obtaining proper voter identification comes with a price tag—with direct costs ranging from $14.50 to $58.50, according to a GAO report. This effectively allows voter ID laws to serve as modern-day poll taxes. Voter ID laws also create opportunities for voter intimidation at the polls because, as the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found, about 68 percent of respondents did not have any identification that reflects both their preferred name and gender. While transgender voters maintain the right to vote even if the gender marker on their identification is incorrect, it requires transgender voters to justify their identity in order to obtain a ballot.
Our right to vote is tied to the Supreme Court, and in 2013 when the Supreme Court failed us in its ruling of Shelby County v. Holder, people of color and students suffered. North Carolina jumped at the opportunity to remove voters from its rolls and as a result 56 Black student voters from historically Black university Elizabeth City State University, were removed. With Kavanaugh on the bench, this will be but one example of students and people of color being stripped of their right to vote.
While it is critical we protect and expand the right to decide who represents us, we also know that we do not need representatives to tell us how we care for our bodies and health. In referring to birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs,” Kavanaugh proved that his ignorance of reproductive health and scientific fact is a threat to our reproductive lives. While we should not have to justify our use of birth control, birth control is healthcare and paramount to our ability to live our lives fully. It is healthcare for survivors of sexual violence who should never have to worry about carrying their rapist’s baby. It is healthcare for those who suffer from endometriosis, which can lead to menstrual cramps that doctors consider more painful than a heart attack. It is healthcare for individuals who rely on birth control to treat their epilepsy.
Make no mistake, just as birth control is critical healthcare, abortion access is also essential for many young women and nonbinary people. Seven out of ten Americans believe in abortion access, and one in four women will obtain one in her lifetime. These numbers matter. They represent people and experiences and stories and lives that deserve dignity and humanity, not barriers and restrictions. If Roe v. Wade is dismantled, 20 states are poised to ban or severely restrict access to abortion.
Kavanaugh may say that he considers Roe settled law, but his past communications and record makes it clear that he will not hesitate to further restrict and police our bodies. In Garza v. Hargan in 2017, Kavanaugh used his power to block an undocumented immigrant minor from receiving an abortion. If abortion is increasingly restricted, we know low-income women will struggle to cross state lines and overcome cost and other barriers. We also know women of color will face increasing criminalization for daring to take ownership of their own bodies. Women will suffer, go to jail—even die. We cannot allow this to happen. Kavanaugh’s record proves that his intent to restrict abortion access is a part of his larger agenda to control the bodies and decisions of women and patients. Disturbingly, in a 2007 case, Doe ex rel. Tarlow v. D.C, Kavanaugh ruled against three women with disabilities who were forced to get abortions. Reproductive freedom and abortion access is about allowing women and patients the basic right of making their own choices. No one deserves to be denied their power and autonomy.
Kavanaugh only believes in “choice” when it comes to school vouchers. He only believes in “choice” as it applies to some white children without disabilities. In most cases, school voucher programs require children with disabilities to waive their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was created to ensure equal opportunity and accessibility to receive an education. His support of school vouchers will also revert our schools to a time before desegregation, as voucher programs were created for white families hoping to avoid integrating schools. His support of school vouchers, coupled with his opposition to affirmative action will ensure that the opportunities education is supposed to provide will be closed to students of color.
We all deserve a quality education without fear of being defrauded by predatory colleges. With Kavanaugh on the bench, we could very well lose that protection as he works to dissolve the CFPB. We all deserve a quality education and to attend classes as well as movies, concerts, and walking down our streets without fearing for our safety. Yet, Kavanaugh favors protecting automatic weapons over the lives taken from them. We do not want to be afraid, but since Kavanaugh’s nomination was announced, young people have been begging for our lives. We have been begging to not have to live under the fear of gun violence. We have been begging to live our lives fully.
We do not want to be afraid, nor do we want to be made sick by the air we breathe and the water we drink. Time and time again, Kavanaugh has ruled in favor of corporations polluting our earth, allowing our quality of life to be sacrificed in favor of the bottom line profit. In the 2014 case, E.M.E Homer City Generation v. Environmental Protection Agency, Kavanaugh opined against a federal program that sought to regulate air pollution from crossing state boundaries. His opinion was struck down by the Supreme Court, with both Justice Roberts and Judge Kennedy voting in favor of the pollution regulation, proving that Kavanaugh may be even more hostile to environmental protections than some of his conservative colleagues and predecessors. As we’ve seen from Flint to Standing Rock, the burdens of environmental degradation are often felt hardest by communities of color, Native communities, and low-income families. Already in Alaska, specifically in the Yup’ik tribal community, water levels are rising to dangerous levels and families are making contingency plans for when they inevitably have to flee their homes. This will not be the only community forced from their land when Kavanaugh limits federal ability to confront climate change. We deserve to live in a country where our government’s decisions do not systematically poison us.
After the lack of environmental protections make Americans sick, the lack of affordable healthcare will make us sicker. We know that Kavanaugh is committed to dismantling the Affordable Care Act, particularly eliminating care for those with pre-existing conditions. Seventy-five percent of elderly people have pre-existing conditions, over half of all U.S. adults live with pre-existing conditions, and one in four children would also be harmed by this measure. Low-income families struggling to make ends meet will be slammed with new medical bills. For people with disabilities, the elimination of affordable care would be devastating. Furthermore, if the term “pre-existing conditions” ludicrously includes pregnancy, previous C-sections, and past domestic abuse, countless women will be denied care. Under this definition, Kavanaugh would also reprehensibly classify being transgender as “having a pre-existing condition” in order to routinely and hatefully deny care. The power to live our lives fully depends on access to healthcare. Overturning the Affordable Care Act gives our decision-makers the ability to assign value to our lives, determining who is allowed to live and thrive, and who is not.
Finally, we must not only show our support for survivors of sexual violence, we must act on it– not just when it is politically convenient. We must take action if and when survivors choose to speak out, if and when they choose to report, and if and when they request care they need and deserve. It is unacceptable for survivors to be retraumatized by the government put in place to protect them. When Anita Hill spoke up during the confirmation hearings of Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court twenty-seven years ago, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee undermined her testimony and maligned her character and people in this country took note of the dangers of speaking up. A year ago, we watched as this chamber pledged a new era and new promises for survivors. Now, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is speaking up and we will not sit idly while her story is shared without her consent, while her credibility is challenged, while the very people who promised justice for survivors attempt to silence her. Dr. Blasey Ford deserves better, all survivors deserve better, than to have their rights subject to partisan politics. When the perpetrator in the highest office in our country nominates a perpetrator to the highest court, we must unequivocally and unanimously say “no.” Committing sexual violence should be disqualifying from public leadership.
Young people understand just how much is at stake with this nomination. We understand how severe a lifetime appointment with Kavanaugh would be. We are organized, engaged, and paying attention to the political decisions and representatives that dictate our freedoms and impact the trajectory of our lives. Our generation deserves so much more than to watch our hard-earned rights disappear. We deserve leaders who will listen to us when we say: Do not confirm Kavanaugh—our futures are on the line.
Advocates for Youth
Alliance for Youth Action
End Rape on Campus
Know Your IX
Planned Parenthood Generation Action
Power Shift Network
Rock the Vote
Young People For Action
Youth In Action
Youth Progressive Action Catalyst