LOS ANGELES – Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), issued the following statement today opposing the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court:
“As an organization that has worked for 50 years to promote the civil rights of all Latinos living in the United States, MALDEF has regularly pursued cases in the federal courts on behalf of that mission. We regularly take a position on federal appellate court nominees. Historically, MALDEF has also often appeared as counsel in the U.S. Supreme Court, so MALDEF appreciates the critical importance of the pending nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“After a careful evaluation of the available record, MALDEF strongly opposes the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh.
“There are two preliminary, but very critical considerations. First, the significant departure from appropriate and traditional process in the Senate’s consideration of this nomination is dangerous and irresponsible. Consideration of the nomination when so much of the paper record on Judge Kavanaugh’s views has not been released to the Senate or the public is a violation of the Constitution’s directive that the Senate advise and consent to the nomination.
“Second, consideration of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is inherently tainted by the significant and consistent anti-Latino rhetoric and actions of his nominator, Donald Trump. We have not had such an overtly racist chief executive in a century, so this aberrant president presents a real challenge as a Supreme Court nominator. We must acknowledge that any president will seek nominees who reflect the president’s thinking. When that thinking includes open bias against particular groups, nominations should face additional and pointed scrutiny.
“Judge Kavanaugh, like many recent Supreme Court nominees, appears to lack familiarity or knowledge of the major legal concerns and historical experiences of the Latino community in the United States. That should be a concern — and a matter of Senate inquiry — because Latinos have been the nation’s largest racial/ethnic minority group for over a decade, and Latino prominence will only grow in the future. Latinos currently comprise one quarter of all K-12 public school students, so Latinos will be increasingly significant to cases heard and decided during the likely lengthy tenure of any new Supreme Court justice.
“More fundamentally, Judge Kavanaugh’s record demonstrates a lack of respect for important civil rights precedent in many areas, all of which affect the Latino community.
“Of particular concern to MALDEF are indications that Judge Kavanaugh would accept and endorse an interpretation of constitutional rights granted to all ‘persons’ as not in fact extending to all persons. His previous endorsements of the denial of ‘person’ rights to immigrants is far outside the boundaries of mainstream jurisprudence. His belief that an immigrant minor does not have the same rights of reproductive choice enjoyed by other persons should, on its own, disqualify him from elevation to the Supreme Court.
“This and other past Kavanaugh decisions of similar direction are particularly concerning in an era when many cases purport to present a clash of rights between different persons or entities. These cases have and will come before the Supreme Court, and a judge who seems to accept a hierarchy of rights holders that would implicitly or explicitly relegate immigrants to less than other persons is an unacceptable adjudicator.
“A greater explanation of Judge Kavanaugh’s views on the interpretation of ‘person’ in the Constitution, and on the specific rights of immigrants, may exist in the records that have not been released for review. This further demonstrates why the current rush to judgment is utterly unacceptable.
“MALDEF strongly opposes the current rushed consideration of the Kavanaugh nomination, and we strongly oppose confirmation of this nominee to the United States Supreme Court.”