Mount Carmel Baptist Church — the church I have been called to lead — has served the people of West Philadelphia for the last 135 years. We strive for justice for the vulnerable and oppressed, just as Isaiah teaches us.
It is with this in mind that I must convey that confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will be an enormous step back in so many areas for congregations like mine, and for African Americans across the United States.
From the moment the 15th Amendment gave us the right to vote, our country has been trying desperately to take it away. For years, Kavanaugh has demonstrated his hostility to basic protections for the right to vote for African Americans. Particularly troubling was his vote in 2012 to affirm South Carolina's patently racist voter identification law that would have prevented nearly 64,000 people of color from voting in the state. As a native North Carolinian, I understand first hand the struggle my grandparents and others endured in fighting for the civil rights that have benefited so many. I am not going to be silent when a Supreme Court that does not believe in equality tries to undo all of that work. I know that many in my congregation feel the same way.
Kavanaugh has consistently come down on the wrong side of civil rights issues of critical importance to black and brown Americans. As a young White House staffer, he was at the center of the Bush administration's push to end the equal opportunity admissions policies that have created generations of wealth and opportunity in our communities. As a judge, he has consistently been dismissive of lawsuits that allow people to have their day in court to protest racial discrimination at work. And his comment, made to the Christian Science Monitor in 1999, that he envisions an America in which government treats us all as being "one race" is naive and fails to recognize a basic fact: We cannot be one race while many of us face life-threatening discrimination every day.
Finally, I cannot say enough about what the Affordable Care Act has meant to my community. Before the ACA, nearly 50 million Americans lacked health insurance; more than 16 percent of these individuals were African Americans. The ACA has reduced the number of uninsured African Americans, with significant benefits brought to African American women. Simply put, America cannot afford a Supreme Court justice hostile to the ACA. Kavanaugh's opinions have used language that suggests the kind of damage he would seek to cause to the ACA: He called the ACA's individual mandate "unprecedented on the federal level in American history;" suggested that it went beyond Congress's powers; and called its constitutionality into question. It is no secret what Brett Kavanaugh would try to do to the ACA if he were to be confirmed; his confirmation will jeopardize the health of our communities.
I recognize that, with his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee beginning on Tuesday, our work in stopping this nomination is cut out for us. But nobody said the struggle for equal rights and full recognition in this country was going to be easy. We have been fighting for a long time, and we will not stop today.
Dr. Martin Luther King taught us that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Some 50 years after the March on Washington, as we continue to struggle for equality, the last thing we as a nation need is to take a giant step backward. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh would mean exactly that.