In the sizzling swelter of summer, advocates came to turn up the heat against the nomination of federal judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
“We need a Supreme Court that will uphold the rule of law, not the rule of Trump in the United States Supreme Court,” said Sen. Bob Menendez to cheers from the crowd.
Planned Parenthood led the charge. It knows a Kavanaugh confirmation could tip the scales on the high court and kill the landmark decision Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.
“This is the latest attack against reproductive health care. The right to access safe, legal abortion is on the line,” said Roslyn Rogers Collins, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s record proves he is committed to gutting this landmark decision,” said New Jersey Citizen Action Executive Director Phyllis Salowe-Kaye.
“We’re tired of men having more rights to our bodies than we do. From school dress codes,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Others fear a Kavanaugh confirmation could crush President Barack Obama’s signature legislation: the Affordable Care Act. One woman said the health law paved the way for her getting precancerous care at Planned Parenthood when her employer left the country and left her without insurance.
“Having Judge Kavanaugh on the court is a threat to these rights and it’s a threat to patients like me all across the country,” said Dover resident Liliana Alcaid.
On the political side, a state senator offered an ‘I told you so’ about why it mattered to vote for Hillary Clinton.
“I kept repeating the same three words: Supreme Court nominations. Elections have consequences,” said Sen. Teresa Ruiz.
Republicans plan to have the nomination considered this summer, confirmed by vote in the fall and to seat Kavanaugh soon after.
“I think the president made an outstanding nomination. We look forward to the confirmation process and it’ll unfold in the next few weeks,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said July 10.
Republicans hold a slim majority in the U.S. Senate, and in this election season at least four red state Democrats seem on the fence about voting for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, making it seem to some that Kavanaugh’s confirmation is almost a fait accompli.
But not to Sen. Cory Booker, who’s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“American history is a perpetual testimony to the achievement and the impossible,” Booker said. “And so anybody hearing this needs to understand, yeah, they may have all the procedural means, they may have better odds when it comes to the numbers, but as Bob [Menendez] said already, ‘the power of the people is greater than the people in power.’ And that’s why we desperately need people to not take this sitting down.”
The battle lines have been drawn over a nomination that could shape the court for a generation or more.