While the vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh hits a snag amidst a credible accusation of sexual assault, it is worth noting that the process otherwise would have moved forward without a clear understanding of where he stands on LGBTQ rights.
Asked by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) about his personal views on whether Obergefell v. Hodges was “correctly decided,” Kavanaugh repeatedly declined to answer directly, saying: “Each of the justices have declined as a matter of judicial independence — each of them — to answer questions in that line of cases.” Never mind that he isn’t actually a justice, but rather a nominee, and the reason he is sitting in the Senate is to determine his views ahead of a lifetime appointment.
The Supreme Court is responsible for some of America’s most-important historical moments for better or worse, including denying slaves citizenship (Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857), upholding segregation laws (Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896), then decades later ruling that school segregation is unconstitutional (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954) to allowing legal abortion for women (Roe v. Wade, 1973) to allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in election campaigns (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010) to legalizing same-sex marriage on a federal level (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015, in a 5-4 decision) and so much more.
In the coming years, the court will likely be asked to rule on state antidiscrimination laws, transgender students and their rights and whether taxpayer funds should go to religious organizations with foster-care agencies that do not allow LGBTQ couples to foster children.
It is safe to say that in some form or another, the Supreme Court will be asked to decide whether LGBTQ people have the same rights as other Americans. As the potential tie-breaker, we need Kavanaugh to answer. But first, he has to be asked.