Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh ‘will end court’s majority’ on LGBT rights

Donald Trump’s pick for the US Supreme Court will irrevocably tip the court’s balance against LGBT rights.

Trump this week announced he would pick Brett Kavanaugh – a former Bush era White House official and appeals court judge – to fill the spot on the court vacated by Anthony Kennedy.

Kennedy has often been the crucial swing vote on the nine-vote court in favour of LGBT equality, authoring rulings in 2003, 2013 and 2015 that invalidated sodomy laws, struck down anti-gay legislation, and introduced equal marriage in all 50 states.

US President Donald Trump congratulates his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty)

The 2013 United States v. Windsor and 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges rulings on same-sex marriage were both decided by narrow 5-4 rulings, and if confirmed Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh would likely flip the court to a 4-5 vote against equality for future cases.

Following the announcement major LGBT groups have lamented the ruling, while the ultra-conservative groups opposed to LGBT rights have reacted with jubilation.

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, said: “If confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh will have the chance to codify President Trump and Vice President Pence’s dangerous anti-LGBTQ record and the agenda of anti-LGBTQ groups into law for decades to come.

“Like Neil Gorsuch before him, Kavanaugh is an ideologically driven pick designed to create an activist Supreme Court that will undermine rights and protections for women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and all vulnerable people. Americans do not want or need 40 more years of Trump’s values.”

US President Donald Trump congratulates his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty)

HRC President Chad Griffin said: “In nominating Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump has followed through on his threat to nominate a justice who would undermine LGBTQ equality, women’s reproductive rights and affordable healthcare.

“Now, the Senate has a responsibility to fulfill its constitutional duty, serve as a check on this reckless president and reject Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

He added: “This nominee was hand-picked by anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice groups in an explicit effort to undermine equality — and the prospect of a Justice Kavanaugh threatens to erode our nation’s civil rights laws, block transgender troops from bravely serving this nation and allow a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people in every aspect of American life.

“The 2018 midterm elections just became the most consequential elections of our lifetime, and we must seize the opportunity to pull the emergency brake on this regime. We need to vote this November like our lives depend on it — because they do.”

US Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks after being nominated by US President Donald Trump (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty)

Meanwhile the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage – which has long advocated a strategy of stacking the Supreme Court with conservatives in order to undermine rulings on LGBT equality – is jubilant at the pick.

NOM President Brian Brown said: “Judge Kavanaugh is a constitutionalist who believes that the constitution means what it says and must be interpreted according to what the framers intended when it was crafted.

“This confirmation battle will be the most important work we can do. 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.”

Brian Brown

There are several cases on LGBT rights filtering through the lower courts that may end up before the Supreme Court, from issues relating to discrimination and ‘religious freedom’ to battles over transgender school kids and military personnel.

NOM and other conservative groups have launched massive lobbying operations in favour of Kavanaugh, who was vetted by the anti-LGBT Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society, both of whom have strongly opposed anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

However the evangelical movement is not united behind the pick, with several groups angered he is not sufficiently opposed to abortion rights.