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July 1, 2018 / Press Releases

NARAL Release: Records of Trump’s SCOTUS Short-List Judges Show They Will Vote to Overturn Roe

Trump Promised To Only Appoint Anti-Choice Supreme Court Nominees. His Shortlist Lives Up To That Promise

For Immediate Release: July 1, 2018
Contact: [email protected]

Late on Friday, Bloomberg News reported that Trump’s shortlist to fill Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court included Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman, Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge and Amul Thapar.

Research by NARAL Pro-Choice America into these judges shows that nothing in their past would indicate that they are anything other than a likely vote to overturn Roe v Wade, criminalize abortion and punish women. Donald Trump repeatedly promised to only appoint anti-choice Justices and this list seems to to live up that promise.

All Senators should know a vote for any of these judges would be a vote to overturn Roe v Wade, criminalize abortion and punish women.

Below is NARAL’s topline research on Trump’s short list:

Amy Coney Barrett

  • Current position: judge, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Appointed by anti-choice Pres. Donald Trump
  • Barrett is active in the conservative, anti-choice Federalist Society.
  • Barrett believes that life begins at conception.
  • During a presentation on Roe v. Wade, Barrett described Roe as “a dramatic shift.” She stated that “the framework of Roe essentially permitted abortion on demand and Roe recognizes no state interest in the life of a fetus.”
  • Barrett has aligned herself with organizations that have strong anti-choice and anti-LGBT viewpoints. During her confirmation hearing (to the Seventh Circuit), Barrett admitted to accepting an honorarium from an organization that expresses anti-choice and anti-LGBT views. She later challenged that organization’s classification as a hate group as “a matter of public controversy.” Additionally, she signed a letter with top anti-choice activists from organizations including Susan B. Anthony List, March for Life, Family Research Council, Heartbeat International, and Priests for Life. The letter recognizes “life from conception” and that “marriage and family [is] founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”
  • In an article in which she argues that stare decisis should be more flexible, Barrett cites Planned Parenthood v. Casey multiple times as an example of a decision where the court failed to overturn an “erroneous decision” (i.e. Roe). From both her choice of language and repeated references to Casey, one can reasonably infer that she believes Roe was incorrectly decided.
  • Barrett has expressed concerning opinions about the critical question of when judges with strong personal views on issues before them must recuse themselves, raising serious concerns about whether she would be able to recognize her own personal biases when judging cases. An article she co-wrote on the subject of recusal explicitly states that judges who hold strong personal views about the death penalty should recuse themselves rather than sentence an individual to death or enforce a jury recommendation of death. The article also states that abortion is “always immoral,” but makes no similar recommendation of recusal for anti-choice judges in abortion-related cases.

Thomas Hardiman

  • Current position: judge, Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Appointed by anti-choice President George W. Bush
  • While on the Third Circuit, Hardiman joined an opinion that overturned the conviction of an anti-abortion protester.
  • Hardiman contributed to elected officials including Rick Santorum, George W. Bush, Melissa Hart, Phil Gramm, and Arlen Specter, some of whom are anti-choice.
  • Hardiman is active in the conservative, anti-choice Federalist Society.
  • Hardiman recently authored an opinion allowing the Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization known for its opposition to the ACA’s landmark contraceptive-coverage policy, to intervene in a case regarding the Trump administration’s new rules that allow nearly any employer to deny their employees coverage of birth control because they object for any reason. The Little Sisters are intervening to support the rules.

Brett Kavanaugh

  • Current position: Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Appointed by anti-choice President George W. Bush
  • He served as Senior Associate Counsel and in various other positions in the anti-choice George W. Bush White House. In these roles, he was responsible for “marshaling the fleet” of George W. Bush’s far-right, anti-choice judicial nominees, including Priscilla Owen and William Pryor.
  • Kavanaugh is active in the conservative Federalist Society.
  • He has contributed to anti-choice, extreme politicians including Henry Hyde and Orrin Hatch.
  • Kavanaugh issued a strongly worded dissent against a D.C. Circuit decision that allowed an undocumented young woman to access abortion care. Kavanaugh argued that despite the fact that the girl had already met all of Texas’ burdensome requirements for young women seeking abortion care (mandatory delay, state court approval, etc.), she should have to wait until she had an immigration sponsor to make “that momentous life decision.” He wrote, “The en banc majority…reflects a philosophy that unlawful immigrant minors have a right to immediate abortion on demand, not to be interfered with even by Government efforts to help minors navigate what is undeniably a difficult situation by expeditiously transferring them to their sponsors.”
  • In a heated dissent in Priests for Life v. HHS, Kavanaugh argued that the Affordable Care Act’s religious accommodation to the contraceptive-coverage policy placed a substantial burden on religious employers’ beliefs, even “if the religious organizations are misguided in thinking that this scheme…makes them complicit in facilitating contraception or abortion.”

Raymond Kethledge

  • Current position: judge, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Appointed by anti-choice President George W. Bush
  • He was the Judiciary Committee counsel for anti-choice Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI) while Sen. Abraham was pushing for the Federal Abortion Ban.
  • He supported the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito; Alito became the fifth vote to uphold the constitutionality of the Federal Abortion Ban.
  • Kethledge has contributed to anti-choice candidates and elected officials including Spencer Abraham, George W. Bush, Joe Knollenberg, and Keith Butler.
  • Kethledge is active in the conservative, anti-choice Federalist Society.

Amul Thapar

  • Current position: judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Appointed by anti-choice president Donald Trump
  • He has contributed to anti-choice elected official Geoff Davis.
  • He served on the Catholic Charities of Covington board of directors from 2010 to at least 2013, and donated money to the organization in 2011. Catholic Charities of Covington’s website currently lists “parenting or adoption” as the only options for pregnant women.
  • Thapar is active in the conservative, anti-choice Federalist Society.

If you need more information on any of these judges, or any of the other judges on Trump’s longer list of 25, please reach out to: [email protected]


NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all Americans. NARAL works to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as “one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America.”

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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