LGBT advocates have demanded the release of documents detailing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s involvement in anti-LGBT policies – as Republicans seek to push ahead with his confirmation hearing.
Trump has nominated the right-wing judge to replace centrist Anthony Kennedy, and campaigners fear he will demolish the court’s fragile majority on LGBT rights after several narrow 5-4 rulings.
Public documents relating to nominees for the Supreme Court are typically released ahead of their confirmation battle to allow scrutiny of their records, however Republicans are attempting to rapidly push forward with Kavanaugh’s confirmation without the release of documents relating to his time as White House Staff Secretary to George W Bush between 2003 and 2006.
The Bush-era White House at the time was embroiled in a number of aggressive actions against LGBT rights, but campaigners say that without the release of the documents from the National Archives and George W. Bush Presidential Library it will be difficult to clarify what role Kavanaugh specifically played in the battles.
Documents already obtained by the Freedom of Information Act have already shown that Kavanaugh was privy to White House email correspondence regarding an anti-LGBT “Marriage Protection Week” in 2003.
Lambda Legal this week filed freedom of information requests with eight government departments seeking the release of further documents related to Kavanaugh’s involvement in policies that discriminated against LGBTQ children, families and relationships.
Sharon McGowan, Legal Director and Chief Strategy Officer at Lambda Legal, said: “The American people deserve to know the whole truth about Judge Kavanaugh’s record on LGBTQ rights and other important civil rights issues.
“The George W. Bush White House was one of the most homophobic administrations in recent history, and Brett Kavanaugh was at the center of the action.
“The American people need to know what’s hiding in Kavanaugh’s records, including the role he played in pushing an anti-LGBT constitutional amendment to deny same-sex couples access to the protections of marriage; his involvement in secret efforts to use taxpayer dollars to fund anti-LGBT media commentators; his role in helping Scott Bloch, the disgraced former head of the Office of Special Counsel, persecute LGBT federal workers; and his involvement in White House efforts to block passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, among other discriminatory policies.
“With so much at stake for LGBTQ rights, the American people deserve to see the full universe of documents and communications related to his record.”
McGowan continued: “Affordable healthcare, access to safe abortion, and LGBTQ equality are all in jeopardy with the appointment of the next Supreme Court justice.
“Our country cannot afford another 40 years of Donald Trump’s values on the Supreme Court.
“The American people deserve to know the whole truth about Brett Kavanaugh’s record. Moving forward with the Kavanaugh nomination before his full record has been disclosed will call into question the legitimacy of these confirmation proceedings, and could cast a dark shadow of illegitimacy over the Court for years to come.
“This is a result that can and should be avoided by releasing the records, and allowing for full review of Kavanaugh’s record before any hearings are conducted.”
When Justice Elena Kagan was nominated for the Supreme Court by Barack Obama,the Senate Judiciary Committee paused for nearly a month to review the documents related to her service in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, releasing over 170,000 pages of documents.
But Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has set hearing dates of September 4, 5, 6, and 7 for the confirmation battle, in what campaigners say is an attempt to rush through the confirmation without releasing the documents and before the midterm elections.
Human Rights Campaign Associate Legal Director Robin Maril said: “During his time in the Bush White House, Brett Kavanaugh almost certainly was involved with numerous legal and policy issues that impact the lives and rights of LGBTQ people, including hate crimes legislation, non-discrimination protections for federal workers, and a proposed Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in every state.
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“Historically, the Senate has made an effort to consider every public statement or document related to a Supreme Court nominee’s career.
“Before this hearing takes places, the American people demand and deserve to have the most comprehensive and transparent view of Brett Kavanaugh’s record.
“There is no reason for Chairman Grassley and the Senate Republican Leadership to hide these emails – unless there’s something to hide.”
It was previously revealed that anti-gay activists are leading lobbying operations aimed at Democratic Senators in Republican-dominated states, in a bid to curry support for Kavanaugh and undermine LGBT rights.