President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court last night and we have every right to be concerned- we would be naive to not be concerned. New Mexico has some of the most beautiful lands in the world and is home to twenty-three federally recognized tribes. What does this Supreme Court pick mean for the Land of Enchantment?
- Native American tribes across the country are the one group of people that are impacted by nearly every level of government at once. Here in New Mexico, we are home to twenty-three federally recognized tribes- twenty-three sovereign nations with their own unique governmental systems. The Supreme Court has a terrible track record of denying basic human dignities to Native and Indigenous peoples. There is little to nothing about what the impact of Kavanaugh’s presence on the bench could mean for tribes but currently, there are more cases involving tribes recently, including cases regarding reservation boundaries in Oklahoma. While we are only speculating, it is very possible that Judge Kavanaugh could side with states, the federal government, or businesses when natural resources and boundaries are involved. Trump argued that Native people should be required to work in order to receive Medicaid or health care through Indian Health Services (IHS), despite federal trust responsibilities to tribes to provide healthcare.
- In 2016, Trump said on the campaign trail that he would find judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. We know that New Mexicans respect a woman’s right to access whatever healthcare is right for her and her family, up to and including abortion. And while overturning Roe v. Wade may not happen overnight, people who need abortions could face more barriers to seeking the care they need. Judge Kavanaugh had also tried to stop a young undocumented person from seeking an abortion– we do not have to imagine the kind of harm this could do to anyone who finds themselves needing an abortion. One step we can take is passing further protections in the state like those proposed by Rep. Joanne Ferrary in this year’s legislature from her HB 16 bill to ensure reproductive services are protected at the highest level in the state.
- Judge Kavanaugh has said that federal regulations that govern net neutrality inhibited corporations’ First Amendment right to control what information or sites are available to their customers. In New Mexico, we already have the “Digital Divide”- many communities in New Mexico do not have companies that offer internet access in their area and bigger corporations are not willing to invest in building access unless there’s a large population. On top of access to the internet, we could be facing an increasingly costly service that is essential to families and communities nationwide.
- We value clean air and water, right? Judge Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinions on cases relating to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have leaned heavily toward someone willing to dismantle crucial safeguards to our air and water. In 2012, he dissented from his colleagues to adopt the Clean Air Act’s language to regulate issues that could not have been foreseen in the 1970s. Former Justice Antonin Scalia relied on Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions when writing his own opinions on the Supreme Court Bench. New Mexico’s involvement in a three-state court case with Texas and Colorado regarding water, or the lack of, at Elephant Butte, will soon be before the Supreme Court; and Judge Kavanaugh if he is confirmed by the Senate. Considering his track record on the environment, it is not a stretch to assume he could vote in a way that does not favor equity or access. Not to mention ongoing issues relating to Trump’s attempts to make it EASIER for companies to extract fossil fuels on public lands! (link)
- As consumers, we deserve to know the details of how our private financial information will be used and to understand what the kind of relationship we are signing onto with a financial institution if we are taking out a loan. Judge Kavanaugh has said the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has too much power to wield over banks and is thus unconstitutional. In New Mexico, it has taken years to protect consumers from predatory lending practices but there is no consensus on how to do that- the Regulation and Licensing Department’s Financial Institutions Division must report this year to the legislature how they plan on enforcing consumer protection laws. There is no telling the impact a case involving the CFPB could potentially have on New Mexicans; low-income and Native American communities are the ones targeted most by lenders.
We’ve already seen a number of Trump’s efforts to dismantle key parts of our lives defeated by the ongoing pressure of regular folks across the country. Whether it’s taking to the streets or directly lobbying our elected officials, grassroots work is essential in the attempt to stop Kavanaugh from becoming Trump’s second SCOTUS appointee. Senators Udall and Heinrich have both made statements saying they’ll oppose the nomination in the Senate, but we need to keep fighting locally and remember that #WhoWeElectMatters in November- state-level leadership will be the key in protecting New Mexicans’ rights in the era of Trump.