Planned Parenthood and its allies are looking to capitalize on interest in healthcare policy to drive a campaign to block the president’s Supreme Court nominee.
President Donald Trump tapped Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement last month. Kelley Robinson, national organizing director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a briefing with reporters that Kavanaugh poses a significant threat to the Affordable Care Act and the Roe v. Wade decision.
“The threat is so real,” Robinson said. “We cannot and will not return to a time when abortion was criminalized in this country.”
Kavanaugh has weighed in on several healthcare cases, arguing that the courts did not have the jurisdiction to uphold the ACA and that a decision to allow a teen immigrant an abortion was “based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong.”
Kavanaugh was also on a panel of federal appeals court judges that questioned whether the merger between Anthem and Cigna would benefit patients. The deal ultimately imploded.
Republicans have generally praised Kavanaugh, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who said Kavanaugh is “one of the most qualified” nominees to come before the committee.
“He is a superb mainstream candidate worthy of the Senate’s consideration,” Grassley said.
But on the other side of the aisle, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of the Protect Our Care coalition aimed at opposing recent GOP health policy efforts, said there is “a lot of energy around opposing this nomination.”
Protect Our Care, Planned Parenthood and other progressive organizations are launching a “full court press” during the next several weeks to reach out to senators and host events on the issue, Woodhouse said. A particular focus is on states such as Maine and Alaska, which Republican senators viewed as crucial targets to flip on the issue—such as Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski—represent.
Woodhouse said the GOP’s failure to repeal the ACA proves that the fight to block Kavanaugh’s nomination is winnable, especially as healthcare continues to be a key issue for voters heading into the election this fall.
He also noted that the latest polling from Quinnipiac University, released in late July, shows American voters are split on Kavanaugh, with 40% saying the Senate should confirm him and 41% saying it should not.
“This is a really combustible combination for Republicans,” Woodhouse said.
The vetting process for Kavanaugh is already heated in Congress. A flashpoint in the Kavanaugh nomination process is the release of thousands of documents pertaining to his time as an attorney in the George W. Bush administration. The documents were obtained from President Bush, which some Democrats argue makes the review process an even more partisan endeavor.