In the final day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a stream of witnesses offered their perspective on why—or why not—Judge Brett Kavanaugh belongs on the Supreme Court.
As with much of the week’s hearings, healthcare issues were front and center in the testimony of witnesses invited by both parties. Among the panelists was Rochelle Garza, the attorney who represented a young immigrant in a case where Kavanaugh ruled against allowing her access to an abortion.
The controversial case has come up multiple times this week. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in his questioning noted that Kavanaugh used the term “abortion on demand” in his ruling, which is a phrase used commonly by anti-abortion activists.
Garza said she doesn’t know what the term meant, as it did not apply to the woman in the case, referred to as Jane Doe.
Rochelle Garza, citing Judge Kavanaugh’s decision to delay an undocumented teen from getting an abortion: “I don’t understand what abortion on demand means because that was not the situation for Jane. She was one of the most vulnerable people in our community.” #WhatsAtStake pic.twitter.com/ynztVoIxTM— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) September 7, 2018
“Jane was forced to stay pregnant for an entire month against her will ... the pain that this caused her is impossible to describe,” Garza said.
Kavanaugh has throughout this week declined to comment directly on his views on abortion and the Roe v. Wade case—the landmark decision that determined abortion falls under privacy rights. He repeatedly said it was a long-standing precedent that was upheld in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case, but would not say if he would contribute to overturning that precedent.
However, a 2003 email leaked to The New York Times includes a quote from Kavanaugh in which he says legal scholars do not agree that Roe is “settled law.”
Other panelists expressed concern that Kavanaugh’s confirmation could lead to a significant gutting of the Affordable Care Act, in particular protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Jackson Corbin, a 13-year-old with the genetic disorder Noonan syndrome, said that people born with such diseases “deserve better” than to be left behind.
“If you destroy protections for pre-existing conditions, you will leave me and all the kids and adults like me without care or without the ability to afford our care—all because of who we are,” Corbin said.
Witness brought to the panel by the GOP focused on Kavanaugh’s record of service and his life outside of the courtroom, where he is a basketball coach and serves meals to the homeless.
Maureen Mahoney, former deputy solicitor in the George W. Bush administration, said that Kavanaugh, if confirmed, would serve as a “neutral, impartial” arbiter on the Supreme Court, in the vein of Chief Justice John Roberts—who she also testified in favor of.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s independence, his civility and open-mindedness, and his generous mentorship are just a few of the many characteristics that make him superbly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court,” Mahoney said.
Judge Kavanaugh gets an A++ from the American Bar Association. pic.twitter.com/VWdmkC8I3j— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) September 7, 2018