Tag archives: DC Court of Appeals

3 Ways in Which Brett Kavanaugh Has Supported Religious Liberty

by Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M.

August 17, 2018

In light of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s impending confirmation battle, Family Research Council conducted an overview of his record and explained how he would likely rule on the issues we are concerned about. From that review, here are three ways in which Judge Kavanaugh has defended religious liberty:

  1. Judge Kavanaugh Has Defended Religious Believers from the HHS Mandate

In Priests for Life v. HHS, he dissented from the D.C. Circuit’s denial of rehearing en banc, arguing that the HHS mandate substantially burdened the organization’s exercise of religion, pursuant to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. This is a very important conclusion on an important issue and shows Judge Kavanaugh to have a right understanding of the religious freedom burdens that RFRA guards against in this context. While his assertion later in the same case that Hobby Lobby “strongly suggests” that the government has a compelling interest in ensuring broad access to contraceptives seems unnecessary, he did conclude that RFRA protected the claimants because the HHS mandate was not the least restrictive means of achieving any such interest.

  1. Judge Kavanaugh Has Defended Religious Expression in the Public Square

In Newdow v. Roberts, atheists had argued that “so help me God” in the presidential oath violated the Establishment Clause. The D.C. Circuit rejected their argument, and Judge Kavanaugh wrote a concurrence stating that such “longstanding practices do not violate the Establishment Clause as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court.”

More recently, in Archdiocese of Washington v. WMATA, the Archdiocese of Washington attempted to purchase advertising space on the Washington Metro during the Christmas season, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority refused to sell what it deemed a “religious” message for a religious organization. During oral arguments in this case, Judge Kavanaugh told WMATA’s lawyer that this was “pure discrimination” and an “odious” First Amendment violation, showing a keen awareness of potential violations of free speech and free expression with a religious basis.

[In addition], [h]e helped set up a voucher program supporting religious schools in Florida, and also represented the Adat Shalom Jewish group in their legal battle against a Maryland county that was trying to stop construction of a synagogue.

  1. Judge Kavanaugh Has Defended Religious Expression in Schools

During his time in private practice, Judge Kavanaugh chaired the Religious Liberty Practice Group at the Federalist Society, and worked pro bono to write amicus briefs in support of religious expression in schools. He wrote briefs in Good News Club v. Milford Central School, and Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, in which he argued that a public school must allow religious student clubs to use its facilities in a similar manner as other clubs, and that student-led prayer at football events did not violate the establishment clause, respectively.

For more, see: https://www.frc.org/issueanalysis/why-judge-kavanaugh-should-be-confirmed-to-the-supreme-court 

Pillard Pilloried

by Sherry Crater

November 15, 2013

Cornelia Pillard, President Obama’s nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, was rejected  this week by the Senate in a 56-41 cloture vote.  Pillard’s radical views were not considered an appropriate fit for one of the nation’s most powerful courts that rules on administration orders and regulations and from which some judges ultimately become Supreme Court justices.

A professor at Georgetown University Law Center, Cornelia “Nina” Pillard is spreading her radical viewpoints to the young people under her tutelage.  As a student in her class, one might hear her expounding on abstinence-only sex education as being unconstitutional. Or, she might be complaining that ultrasound images are deceptive images of a fetus as an autonomous entity. Of course, it is well understood that ultrasound images do show an autonomous being, albeit a dependent one. The images depict a fetus that is just too dependent and too human for Cornelia Pillard’s liking.

Pillard has also written that abortion is necessary to “free” women “from historically routine conscription into maternity,” a view that certainly does not resonate with the vast majority of moms who consider motherhood a sacred honor and privilege. We can breathe a sigh of relief that sanity prevailed and the Senate rejected this nominee who compares motherhood to the draft.

It is time to move on from Pillard’s negative legal views of pregnancy and the need to destroy the unborn to a more positive conversation about protecting babies in utero who have been shown to feel pain after 20 weeks from fertilization.  Twelve states have now passed fetal pain bills banning abortion after 20 weeks. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that also bans late abortion has passed in the House of Representatives, and Sen. Lindsay Graham has introduced the companion bill in the Senate with 41 co-sponsors.  When it comes to babies, protection trumps destruction!