The Center for HIV Law & Policy was one of 33 national organizations and 71 state organizations united in their advocacy for the rights of persons with disabilities to join an August 20, 2018 letter to Senator Charles Grassley, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, expressing "strong opposition" to Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That 104 organizations endorsed the letter in the space of roughly a week's time is powerful testimony to the broadly shared conviction that Judge Kavanaugh would wreak havoc on the ability of people living with disabilities to access health care, secure protection from discrimination, and control decisions about how to live their lives.
There are plenty of reasons why LGBT people and people living with HIV should be horrified at the prospect of a Justice Kavanaugh. He has repeatedly and openly criticized the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court decision upholding it. He reversed a lower court decision that stopped D.C. officials from consenting to elective surgeries, including abortions, on people with intellectual disabilities without first attempting to find out the known wishes of the individual. He has revealed a very narrow understanding of, and appreciation for, disability antidiscrimination laws, arguing that U.S. employers should be exempt from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act when operating abroad and generally siding with employers while discounting the discrimination experiences of people with disabilities.
Judge Kavanaugh also believes that the long-established role of federal agencies in interpreting and enforcing civil rights protections is unconstitutional; and he supports state voter identification laws that make it harder for minority communities to exercise their right to vote and to choose their representatives.
Senator Grassley announced earlier this month that the confirmation hearings for Judge Kavanaugh will begin on Tuesday, September 4th, the day after Labor Day. Clearly, time is short and the consequences of a Judge Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court are long and disturbing.
What can you do? Disability rights advocates from across the country are targeting U.S. Senators in 7 states for focused follow-up. The seven senators, and contact information for their key staffers, are listed below. Especially if you live in Alaska, Maine, West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, Alabama or Nevada, please 1) email the relevant staffers below, and 2) let them know that as a PLHIV and a person living with a disability, and/or working on behalf of, the relative or partner or friend of PLHIV/people living with a disability, Supreme Court appointments are very very important, and 3) as a citizen and voter you demand that they vote against the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If you'd like to read the letter or want to know more about the concerns of people living with disabilities and their advocates, check out the resources at the very bottom following the list of contacts: The letter signed by 104 disability rights advocacy organizations, another opposition letter, a report on Judge Kavanaugh's record on disability rights, a list of 10 reasons why he would be bad for people living with disabilities (including PLHIV), and a 'plain language' description of the issues at stake.
Here are the Senate staffers to email before the end of August:
Catherine Hanssens is the founder and executive director of The Center for HIV Law & Policy.
[Note from TheBody: This article was originally published by The Center for HIV Law & Policy on Aug. 20, 2018. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]