who are conservative now fill the country’s courts — and their rulings could restrict rights and freedoms for generations
Why It Matters
One of the most important powers of the president is nominating federal judges. Trump inherited over 100 open judgeships across the country when he took office.
Trump has packed federal courts with judges who have track records of restricting reproductive rights and overall health care access.
For the Supreme Court, Trump delivered on his promise to nominate justices who could overturn Roe v. Wade — the case that recognized the right to access safe, legal abortion. Trump’s appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have long records of opposing abortion, and they are part of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.
“[Trump’s judicial nominees] turn the clock back on years of work and effort that went into promoting judicial diversity.”
Reproductive Rights Are at Risk
As of May 2019, Trump has filled over 100 lifetime seats in America’s courts. Trump set a record for confirming the most federal appeals judges in a president’s first year. At this point, over 11% of the country’s judiciary has been appointed by Trump. That includespowerful circuit court judges — 20% of whom have now been appointed by Trump.
Because federal judges across the United States hold lifetime appointments, the individuals who sit on the courts will determine the course of American history — and the course of millions of people’s lives. His picks are relatively young, so they’ll likely spend a long time on the bench. Their records indicate that reproductive rights and other vital protections are at serious risk.
During the 2019 state legislative sessions, more than 290 bills restricting abortion have been filed in 45 states. Should any of this legislation become law, it is likely that Trump-nominated federal judges will be the ones who decide the fate of women’s health and lives in these states.
What’s more, five states have passed six-week abortion bans — and legal cases on these bans (as well as cases on other laws affecting reproductive rights) are expected to work their way up to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court justices are the final safeguard for people’s most basic rights and freedoms. Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch’s seats on the Supreme Court stand to sway the Court’s balance away from voting rights, access to health insurance, and the constitutional right to abortion, among others.
Background on Federal Judges
As of April 2019, at least 179 federal judges have been nominated to lifetime appointments by President Trump — more than any of his five predecessors. About 91% of Trump’s nominees are white, and 81% are male.Ballotpedia
Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court amid widespread protest from women's rights advocates. Meanwhile, anti-abortion groups celebrated Kavanaugh’s confirmation as an opportunity to roll back abortion access and reproductive rights.New York Magazine
Neil Gorsuch has a history of blocking reproductive rights and health care access — even basic access to birth control. He was also a deciding vote in the Supreme Court’s decisions to uphold the discriminatory Muslim ban, strip people of their right to vote, weaken workers’ rights, and empower fake women’s health centers.Rewire News
As of December 2018, six of Trump’s nominees have been rated unqualified by the American Bar Association. That includes federal appeals court appointee Leonard Steven Grasz, who’s spent his career restricting reproductive and LGBTQ rights.Daily Beast
Trump appointed Judge Amy Coney Barrett — who has voiced opposition to Roe v. Wade — to a federal appeals court in Indiana.The Hill
Trump said he’d only appoint biased justices who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade and gut the Affordable Care Act. Even though 72% of voters oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court serves as an invitation for states to pass new restrictions on reproductive rights — including abortion bans that fly in the face of Roe v. Wade and could reach the Supreme Court. Currently, at least 20 states are prepared to ban access to abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.Learn More
Kavanaugh’s previous opinions would have blocked access to birth control and safe, legal abortion. In February 2019, he dissented on halting a Louisiana law that would eliminate abortion access at all but one health center in the state. In 2017, he sided with the Trump administration in blocking a young, undocumented woman from access to abortion. In 2015, he stated that employers should be allowed to deny their employees no-copay birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act.Newsweek
Kavanaugh and Gorsuch will almost certainly have the chance to rule on important issues like affirmative action, birth control, the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and LGBTQ rights. These rulings could deeply harm millions of people, including people of color, who experience disparities because of racist and discriminatory policies.Hello Beautiful
Nearly one-third of Trump’s judicial nominees are overtly hostile to LGBTQ rights. That includes John Kenneth Bush, who was confirmed even though he’s publicly disparaged LGBTQ rights and used homophobic slurs.NPR
Federal judge appointee Stuart Kyle Duncan has a long record of restricting reproductive rights, including arguing against access to birth control and safe, legal abortion.Planned Parenthood Action Blog