President Trump announced his selection of Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative judge to take the place of the more moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy. If confirmed, this will no doubt move the Supreme Court to the right and could undo key rulings and precedent that currently protect a woman’s right to choose as well as the rights of LGBTQ Americans. We know this causes many of our citizens great concern, but we want you to know that your governor and attorney general will continue to defend the rights of all Pennsylvanians.
The president boasted repeatedly about nominating someone who will swing the court so far to the right that our individual liberties — including many of the rights that Kennedy defended — will be put in jeopardy. With an unfettered 5-4 majority, the court’s activist right wing will be free to cut down decades of well-reasoned, long-standing precedent.
But just because the federal government fails to uphold its duty to defend our rights doesn’t mean that those rights will automatically disappear. The 10th Amendment gives states broad authority to defend the rights of their residents. State government leaders like us don’t need the federal government’s permission to do what’s right. We will be a sword to advance the rights of Pennsylvanians and a shield to protect them from federal overreach.
Throughout our careers in public service, both of us have demonstrated a willingness to stand up to anyone — including those in power — to protect Pennsylvanians. For example, Gov. Wolf rejected congressional district maps that were badly gerrymandered, vetoed a bill that would have criminalized abortions after 20 weeks, stood up for environmental protections for clean air and water, and signed an executive order to ensure that women who work for the commonwealth receive the same pay as men who do the same work.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Shapiro has not hesitated to stand up to the federal government when it violates the rule of law. For example, he sued the Trump administration to preserve access to contraception for women — winning a nationwide injunction; sued successfully to protect our air from smog, forcing the EPA to enforce the law; filed a lawsuit against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to stand up for student loan borrowers; and sued the president to stop him from rescinding DACA and to stop his family separation policy.
Beyond the Supreme Court and closer to home, as special interests in Pennsylvania work to dismantle a woman’s right to choose and gut protections for clean air and water, we will continue to stand strong to protect Pennsylvanians and the rights of all citizens.
We will not back down from our legal responsibilities and we will vigorously defend the progress so many of us have fought so hard for over decades. The people of this great commonwealth elected us to defend the individual and collective rights of all Pennsylvanians, and that is exactly what we will continue to do.
Tom Wolf is governor of Pennsylvania. Josh Shapiro is attorney general of Pennsylvania.