Only a few days remain until Sept. 4, when the U.S. Senate is scheduled to hold confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump‘s pick to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court. And with the clock ticking, Republicans are continuing to block access to crucial documents about Kavanaugh’s past — including his role in shameful Bush-era attacks on queer Americans.
Kavanaugh served as White House Staff Secretary under George W. Bush during a time when Republicans were pushing numerous anti-LGBTQ measures. There was an attempt to ban marriage equality via constitutional amendment, efforts to sabotage hate crime protections and a secret campaign to bolster the profile of anti-LGBTQ commentators on television. As an attorney and staff secretary, Kavanaugh oversaw the flow of documents through the highest levels of government. So how exactly did he contribute to those homophobic projects?
Frustratingly, we just don’t know, because Republicans are going to extreme lengths to obscure records of his time in the White House. Kavanaugh has previously referred to his time there as “the most instructive” of his entire career, but Republicans have refused to allow documents from that time to be released from the National Archives.
Here’s what we do know: Before the White House nominated Brett Kavanaugh, he had already been pre-cleared by a rogue’s gallery of groups dedicated to harming queer Americans. Focus on the Family called him a “top-drawer candidate,” and the Family Research Council president said he appreciated Kavanaugh’s “philosophical approach.” He’s supported by the National Organization for Marriage, which claims it has a plan to undo marriage equality, as well as Breitbart and various anti-choice groups.
Kavanaugh’s past rulings are a huge concern as well. He’s written that an employer’s religious beliefs should control whether workers are able to access medical treatments like birth control — an argument already being deployed to defend “turn away the gays” bills across the country.
As a Republican plant on the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh could potentially help dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which greatly expanded access to health care for LGBTQ Americans. That’s of particular concern for people living with HIV/AIDS, since they could be denied care for having a pre-existing condition, essentially sentencing them to death.
Alarmingly, Kavanaugh also called Antonin Scalia a “role model” and “hero.” Scalia stood constantly in the way of equality and human rights for LGBTQ Americans. “I loved the guy,” Kavanaugh said. He pointed specifically to Scalia’s opposition to the freedom to marry as an inspiration.
If he’s confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh would likely hear cases about queer health care, access to education, hate crimes, discrimination in public accommodations — possibly even the repeal of marriage equality.
Lambda Legal has filed a Freedom of Information Request in an attempt to force the government to reveal whatever it’s hiding about Kavanaugh’s service to George Bush. But time is running out, and we may not get those papers until long after the Senate votes, if ever.
With the legitimacy of the Trump administration growing ever more dubious by the day, Kavanaugh is looking more and more like a threat not just to LGBTQ Americans but to all citizens.