Women and people of color everywhere have watched with alarm as President Trump and his supporters in Congress try to rush Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the US Supreme Court before the first Monday in October, when it starts session. The high court will review dozens of issues that impact the lives of generations to come, and nobody has more at stake than women and communities of color — including Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women.
A recent survey of people of color who do not want Roe v. Wade overturned reveals that the vast majority want a Supreme Court justice who will uphold “a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion”: 80 percent of those polled, including 83 percent of AAPIs, responded that it is “important” to them personally that a new Supreme Court justice rule to uphold abortion access. But the poll also shows that so much more than the right to abortion is at stake in the process of filling the US Supreme Court vacancy.
A majority of all respondents, including AAPIs, said that a number of the issues that could be before the high court are extremely important to them — including racism and racial justice, civil rights, access to clean water, access to quality, affordable health care, and a fairer criminal legal system. It’s not surprising that AAPIs who support the right to abortion are also concerned about these other issues. That’s because all of these issues are deeply connected to one another — and together, they create a vision of reproductive justice. Reproductive justice matters to our community because AAPI women struggle with access to effective contraceptives, inadequate sex education and equal pay — all of which threatens their agency over their bodies and their lives.
Since Trump took office, our rights have been eroded by outrageous attacks on health care access, immigrants’ rights and the environment. It’s no wonder that the poll shows 75 percent of AAPI respondents feel the country is on the wrong track. While the US Supreme Court is supposed to safeguard our rights, many AAPIs believe that chances are 50-50 or better that the next Supreme Court will side with the president on attacking immigrants’ rights; restricting access to abortion and overturning Roe; restricting the rights of women, people of color and LGBTQ people; and reducing access to health care. In other words, we know that the issues we care most about are already at risk — making the next justice on the Supreme Court integral to stopping the attacks on AAPIs and all people of color.
The Trump administration’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, has a concerning record that shows that he will not protect our rights or our democracy. Kavanaugh, who could potentially serve for decades, will fundamentally alter the balance of the court and put our most fundamental rights and freedoms at risk.
Kavanaugh’s record on abortion is clear. Jane Doe, an undocumented immigrant in US custody, was denied access to an abortion. A federal appeals court, on which Kavanaugh is a judge, ultimately granted her access in a 6-3 ruling. Kavanaugh voted in the minority, issuing a vehement dissent. He also said that the majority “badly erred” and created a new right for undocumented immigrant minors in custody to “immediate abortion on demand.”
When it comes to US democracy, Kavanaugh believes that the president can be above the law and should not be investigated, questioned by criminal prosecutors or indicted while in office. And lastly, Kavanaugh has frequently favored corporations over regulators, sided with employers over workers and ruled against environmental protections.
The US Supreme Court is supposed to be the champion of the Constitution and the final arbiter of the law. Whoever the next justice on the Supreme Court is, they must uphold the rights we hold dear.
Our research shows that AAPI women not only care about the Kavanaugh nomination, we care enough to fight back. The recent Reproductive Justice Day of Action, organized by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and other reproductive justice organizations, proved just that. AAPI women came from all over the country to Washington, DC, to fight for reproductive justice and to tell senators to vote “No” on Kavanaugh. We will remain committed to fighting until the president names a nominee who will stand up for justice and equality for all — including AAPI women.
We encourage our senators, who are charged with confirming the next justice, to listen to the majority of people (and the overwhelming majority of people of color) who support civil and human rights, including the right to abortion and abortion access. All of us are watching — especially Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a fast-growing voting bloc. We care about the next US Supreme Court justice, and we will hold our senators accountable for their confirmation votes.