A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests
As has been reported on some web sources already, a group of 336 law professors have issued a letter to Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) urging them to vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh when his nomination to the US Supreme Court comes to the Senate floor. I am proud to be among them.
Praising Senators Collins and Murkowski for supporting Roe v. Wade and abortion rights, the letter explains that the Supreme Court is currently one vote shy of overturning or eviscerating the legal right to abortion. Judge Kavanaugh’s past statements and rulings virtually guarantee that he would provide that final vote. The letter concludes by asking the Senators to vote “no” and insisting they make their legacy the protection of fundamental rights for generations to come.
“President Trump has lived up to his campaign promise to appoint Justices who would overturn Roe,” said Professor David S. Cohen of the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, one of the letter’s co-authors. “Ever since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, there has been much debate about the future of Roe. Over three hundred law professors sent this letter to impress upon these Senators that, with the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, the threat to legal abortion is now imminent and real.”
The letter asks Senators Collins and Murkowski to see through Judge Kavanaugh’s predictable statements about respect for precedent. “It’s standard practice for Supreme Court nominees to publicly embrace precedent and the principle of stare decisis,” said Professor Jessie Hill of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, another co-author of the letter. “But it’s clear from past nominations that professed allegiance to precedent during the confirmation process does not translate to any meaningful allegiance as a Justice.”
The law professors also outlined what overruling Roe would mean. “The effects would be devastating,” explained another of the letter’s co-authors, Professor Maya Manian of the University of San Francisco School of Law. “Returning to a world where states can make abortion illegal or extremely difficult to access will harm women’s health, particularly for poor women, women of color, and rural women, which covers so many of the women in Maine and Alaska in particular.” Professor Jessica Silbey of the Northeastern University School of Law, also a co-author, took the concern even further. “Protections for gay rights and other important family concerns grow out of the Roe case. If Roe is weakened or overturned, the lives, dignity, and autonomy of our gay brothers and sisters will also be in peril.”
The letter can be viewed in full here.