Religious Right leaders have joined right-wing pundits and political activists in heaping praise on Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. Many praised Trump for following through on his campaign promise to pick judges from the list that was pre-approved by the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society, which puts Americans’ access to health care, women’s ability to choose safe and legal abortion, and legal equality for LGBTQ Americans at risk.
Not surprisingly, the Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm and Elizabeth Slattery called the choice “another home run” by Trump. Among other things, they praised a dissent in which Kavanaugh suggested that the Supreme Court may want to reconsider its holding in a 1935 case that upheld the constitutionality of independent agencies. They also defended Kavanaugh from a few right-wing critics who said he has not been aggressive enough in promoting the Religious Right’s opposition to abortion and its weaponized interpretation of religious liberty, saying that Kavanaugh “has been playing the long game to advance an understanding of the laws and Constitution that is faithful to the text and original meaning.”
National Review’s Jim Geraghty told conservatives, “Everybody you like loves this guy.”
Here are some excerpts from press statements and messages to activists.
Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins: “Judge Kavanaugh has a long and praiseworthy history of judging as an originalist, and we look forward to have a justice with his philosophical approach on the Court.” Perkins praised Kavanaugh for resisting “secularists.”
Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman: An Operation Rescue press release stated, “Judge Kavanaugh will shift the court’s balance to a conservative perspective and provide long-awaited relief from the liberal judicial activism that manufactured so-called ‘abortion rights’ out of thin air.” Newman, an extreme figure within the anti-choice movement, declared, “Times have changed and a new day is coming when abortion will finally be relegated to the ash heap of history where this barbarism truly belongs.”
Americans United for Life’s Catherine Glenn Foster: The anti-choice Foster praised Kavanaugh as an “originalist” and signaled the organization’s hope that he will vote to overturn precedents that uphold women’s right to choose, saying, “This is a seminal moment for America. It’s a crucial chance to shift the Court back to a majority that does not look to Roe and Casey – two of the worst examples of judicial activism – as their legacy.”
Texas Right to Life’s John Seago: “President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh could be the beginning of the end for Roe v. Wade.”
Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser: Dannenfelser, an anti-choice activist who spoke at a rally in October at which activists prayed for God to clear Supreme Court seats so that Trump could shift the court, praised Kavanaugh as an “originalist” with “a strong record of protecting life and constitutional rights.”
National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown: Anti-equality activist Brown, who is fervently dedicated to overturning the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality decision, praised Kavanaugh as an “outstanding pick” who “will be strong on our issues.” More from Brown: “With this nomination, the balance of power on the Supreme Court could shift dramatically in our favor. For the first time since marriage was illegitimately redefined by the US Supreme Court in the 2015 Obergefell ruling, we have a clear path forward to restoring marriage to our nation’s laws.”
Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed: Reed called Kavanaugh a justice “in the model of Antonin Scalia.” In an email to supporters, Reed said:
If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, conservatives will have a rock-solid 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court for the first time in generation.
Think about it, Patriot. Defending free speech. Protecting the right to bear arms. Bolstering religious freedom. Combating leftist big government. Overturning Roe v. Wade.
Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver: Staver, a leading anti-equality activist, said Kavanaugh “could shape America’s legal landscape for decades,” saying he is “committed to interpreting the text and original meaning of the Constitution and statutes.”
Gun Owners of America’s Erich Pratt: Pratt praised Kavanaugh for a dissent “arguing that Washington, DC’s ban on semi-automatic firearms was arbitrary and unlawful,” a dissent Pratt said “was so well argued that GOA’s subsequent legal briefs have repeatedly held up his dissent as the model to follow.”
Evangelical leader Franklin Graham: “The choice of Kavanaugh, if confirmed, could shape the judicial landscape of this country for decades to come. … We need to thank God for this long-awaited opportunity to change the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church: Jeffress, one of Trump’s earliest and most vocal Religious Right boosters, said, “Evangelicals are ecstatic because in less than two years President Trump has filled a second Supreme Court vacancy with a second conservative—just as he promised.”
American Center for Law & Justice’s Jay Sekulow: Sekulow, who has been a member of Trump’s team of legal advisers, called Kavanaugh “a superb choice” and “a brilliant jurist who embraces the philosophy of our founders—an unwavering commitment to the rule of law and the Constitution.”
Trump Spiritual Adviser Paula White: “If President Trump hit a home run with Justice Gorusch, in the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh he’s hit a grand slam.”
National Religious Broadcasters’ Jerry Johnson: Johnson called Kavanaugh an “all-star” and said, “We must have Supreme Court justices who honor the values of life and liberty at the very core of our Republic, and the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh is a generational opportunity to ensure a strong majority of justices who will stay true to the Constitution and be respectful of the proper role of the judiciary as the interpreter, rather than maker, of the law.”