Categories: National Commentary

It’s Not Just About Roe

By Julianne Malveaux
Senate Republicans hope to get Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, confirmed before October 1, when they will reconvene.  Senate Democrats hope to hold on to any vote until after the November election when Democrats have the possibility of taking a majority in the Senate and giving Republicans a dose of their own medicine. 

Bravo to Senate Democrats who have not yet scheduled meetings with Kavanaugh.  Dems are treating him slightly better than Republicans treated Justice Merrick Garland, President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court.  Unfortunately, with a Republican majority in the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can schedule a hearing without Democratic concurrence. 

If Republicans stick together, and if the calendar is favorable, Kavanaugh can be voted in without any Democratic support. Most of the scrutiny of Kavanaugh has focused on the possibility that he would vote to overturn Roe V. Wade, the legislation that guarantees abortion rights.  Kavanaugh has assured all who will listen that he honors judicial precedent. 

While he isn’t likely to vote to overturn Roe, he is extremely likely to rule in favor of limiting abortion rights.  This might persuade Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to vote against his confirmation.  Several women’s organizations have weighed in against Kavanaugh, largely because of his perceived positions on Roe. 

Depending on how he answers questions in a hearing, Kavanaugh might lose the support of moderate Republican women Senators. Abortion rights aren’t the only rights on the line if Kavanaugh is voted onto the Supreme Court, and I’m frustrated that so many women have so narrowly focused on abortion rights. 

What about voting rights? In 2013, the Supreme Court trashed Title 4(b) (and thus also Title 5) of the Civil Rights Act. Chief Justice John Roberts, who naively believes that the way to stop racism is to simply stop mentioning it, would trash the entire Voting Rights Act, and affirmative action, too, if he had his way. 

He does not believe that disparate impact means discrimination and would likely oppose any state action that made adjustments to prevailing practice because African Americans or other people of color are getting the short end of the stick. 

Laws that prevent discrimination, according to Roberts, are unconstitutional. Kavanaugh is likely to follow Roberts in voting against any legislation that is “race-conscious.” 

Not only is Kavanaugh likely to threaten voting rights and civil rights, but he is also expected to threaten consumer protection.  Already the Consumer Financial Protection Board has been under attack.  When Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) led the office on an interim basis, he did everything he could to render the agency inefficient, including submitting a zero budget for the agency. 

Now, President Trump has nominated Mulvaney’s assistant, Kathy Kraninger, to replace him as CFPB leader.   Kraninger, a Georgetown University law graduate, has absolutely no background in consumer protection or financial services.  

Kraninger should not be confirmed to lead the CFPB, but the agency may be short-lived if Brett Kavanaugh becomes a justice.  He has ruled that the CFPB is “unconstitutional” and “a threat to individual liberties:”  Through his rulings, predatory bankers have been able to avoid paying millions of dollar of fines.  He is on record opposing regulation and consumer protection and will make life much more challenging for everyday Black folks.

Brett Kavanaugh has been a strong proponent of presidential power, and would likely cover for Trump in individual lawsuits, and prevent government agencies, or others, from bringing lawsuits against Trump.  He has stated that he would put “a nail in the coffin” of the independent counsel statute, and would probably prevent investigations of presidents while they are in office.  But if we wait until 2020 to pin the tail on the Trump elephant, we will have been annexed by Russia, reimposed segregation, and more!

The white women who consider their top issue in vetting a Supreme court justice the abortion issue are being extremely short-sighted.  There are plenty more reasons to be adamantly opposed to this nominee.  Perhaps Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) the lone Black Republican in the Senate, will be swayed by the Kavanaugh position on voting rights. Maybe other Republicans will grow a conscience. 

Or perhaps Schumer can hold the line on a vote until November. In any case, abortion rights aren’t the only rights on the line if Kavanaugh makes it to the Supreme Court.

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available for booking, wholesale inquiries or for more info visit

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