WASHINGTON – Even before President Donald Trump nominated U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court nominee Monday night, advocates for a range of issues were bracing for what might come next.
They knew they were likely to get a conservative jurist – the president had promised as much – but were trying to figure out just what that might mean for them, how the next justice will affect the court and whether the nomination can be blocked.
“What we’re hoping for is the commonsense folks in Congress that actually represent their constituents” can block a nominee who is out of the mainstream, said Tayler Tucker, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Arizona.
Abortion is expected to be a key point in the nomination battle, with Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh giving the court a solid 5-4 conservative majority that could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that recognized women’s privacy and reproductive rights.
Most Democrats would oppose a justice who promised to overturn Roe, and some Republicans have expressed concern at the possibility. With just 51 Republicans in the Senate and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, sidelined by cancer, the administration cannot afford to lose many votes.
But abortion is just one high-profile issue for a court that this year alone dealt with voting rights, partisan redistricting, gay rights and the president’s so-called “travel ban.”
The court has already identified 38 cases for its next term, which begins in October. They range from cases on tribal sovereignty to the death penalty, from whether a mobile home is a house for purposes of a burglary charge to whether Apple can be sued by iPhone buyers for antitrust damages.
One of the first cases the court is scheduled to hear this fall is an age discrimination suit from Arizona that was filed by firefighters against the Mount Lemmon Fire District.
But for Randall Terry, there is only one issue that matters with this nomination – overturning Roe v. Wade.
Terry, a longtime pro-life activist, led a handful of protesters outside the White House on Monday, who said they were there to call for the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“Roe versus Wade was the worst decision to ever curse this country,” Terry shouted in front of a crowd. “Abortion is a crime against God and man…. Roe versus Wade must be overturned.”
Terry, the founder and president of the Society for Truth and Justice, led the crowd in shouts of, “Abortion is murder! Overturn Roe!” and said that any court nominee who cannot commit to overturning the case “is not fit to serve on the bench.”
That’s what Tucker is worried about, fearing the court will chip away at Roe, if not reverse it outright after 45 years.
-Cronkite News video by Pat Poblete
“We’re standing on the shoulders of giants … and I was afforded these liberties because someone else fought like hell for them,” Tucker said. “I think a lot of people in our generation only assumed it would move forward.
“We hope that our Senate will reject any nominee that does not pass that litmus test of not wanting to uphold Roe v. Wade,” she said.
Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod said she did not have a litmus test for the next Supreme Court justice, but is looking for a “course correction” and a justice committed to interpreting the Constitution.
“For too long, the U.S. Supreme Court has been a policymaking body. That’s not the purpose of the Supreme Court, nor is it the intent of our founders,” Herrod said.
“My hope is that the new justice will be a justice who looks to the text of the constitution and rule accordingly.”
-Cronkite News reporter Pat Poblete contributed to this report.