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Kavanaugh’s Civil Rights Views Under Scrutiny


Affirmative action is an important civil rights issue that carries a goal of instilling admissions policies geared to provide equal access to education for groups that have historically been underrepresented or excluded—such as minorities and women—in higher educational institutions.

While the U.S. Supreme Court has historically upheld university admissions policies that allow for race to be a factor in admissions, the new U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s views on this issue—and his potential to take the Court in an entirely new direction on related civil rights issues—serve as a cause for concern for many, as we discuss below.

Concerning Views

Kavanaugh previously worked for President George W. Bush, who favored “race-neutral” admissions (i.e. he was opposed to affirmative action policies). His views on affirmative action—as well as discrimination and voting rights—have come under intense scrutiny by civil rights organizations as his confirmation hearings begin in early September. Specifically, there are legitimate concerns that, if he is confirmed to the court, he would undermine its integrity and prove a grave threat to civil rights and racial justice.

Kavanaugh’s history on voting includes a decision signaling his personal opposition to affirmative action, as well as one decision upholding South Carolina’s voter ID law, whereby he found that the statute was legal because anyone who had difficulty obtaining a photo ID (and thus voting) could still vote by signing an affidavit. The law had previously been opposed by the Justice Department, which pointed out that laws like those make it more difficult for minorities to vote.

Critics are also concerned about his history on employment discrimination, because he disagreed with a majority of judges on a case that involved a black woman who was fired from her job due to alleged racial discrimination. In his dissent, Kavanaugh had argued that the plaintiff should not be able to pursue racial discrimination and retaliation claims.

A Glimmer of Hope?

Still, Kavanaugh has also authored a number of decisions that arguably reflect a support for justice on civil rights issues; decisions which include making it clear that discriminatory action by employers violate the Civil Rights Act and uttering racial epithets to employees creates a hostile work environment under federal laws.

That being said, Kavanaugh’s views on affirmative action appear to be murkier, as he has demonstrated clear interest in Bush’s anti-affirmative action views. This is dismal to a number of civil rights advocates, who detect an overall crusade launched against educational equity and civil rights by the current administration.

Florida Civil Rights Attorneys

Your civil rights are arguably ever more in danger now, as judges with questionable views on civil rights are nominated to the bench. Contact our experienced Orlando civil rights lawyers at the Baez Law Firm if you have concerns that your rights have been violated.


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