Focus on the Family Praises Kavanaugh For ‘Originalist’ Judicial Philosophy

Focus on the Family Welcome Cente
Focus on the Family Welcome Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado (Photo: David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons)

Focus on the Family, the massive nonprofit organization that got the IRS to re-classify it as a church in order to avoid government regulation and, it claimed later, to protect the privacy of its donors, sent supporters an email on Friday morning praising Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and offering a “free resource” on the nominee. “On issues of religious freedom and free speech, among others, his court opinions and dissents portray a judge who deeply values our God-given rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” says Focus.

The “resource” is a webpage containing basic biographical information and a section on “What makes Kavanaugh a good prospect for the Supreme Court?” High on that list is his “originalist and textualist judicial philosophy.” Focus also notes that Kavanaugh has called the late right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia a “hero and a role model.”

“Originalism” is a judicial philosophy grounded in the belief that judges should interpret the language of the Constitution according to what they believe the document’s authors originally meant. Scalia was supposedly devoted to originalism—championed by the Federalist Society and all but mandatory for conservative judicial candidates to embrace—but applied it inconsistently in order to support his favored outcomes. Former Supreme Court Justice David Souter, whose name is used as an epithet by right-wing judicial activists, eloquently denounced originalism in a 2010 commencement address at Harvard.

Focus on the Family’s Kavanaugh-boosting page also includes quotes from President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Ed Meese, and Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, and links to Daly’s statement congratulating Trump for the “excellent nomination.”

Focus on the Family is an anti-LGBTQ equality organization whose policy arm has raised money to fight state-level bans on subjecting minors to anti-gay “conversion therapy.” Last November it joined other Religious Right groups as a sponsor of a World Congress of Families regional summit to resist advances toward LGBTQ equality in the Caribbean. Pence was the keynote speaker at Focus on the Family’s 40th anniversary celebration last year, where he assured the group that they “have an unwavering ally in President Donald Trump.”