Yeomans: The Kavanaugh Effect

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Carolyn Bobb

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 20, 2019 – In the latest edition of Yeomans Work, AFJ Senior Justice Fellow Bill Yeomans notes that all eyes are on Justice Kavanaugh as he begins issuing opinions – and confirming many of the fears raised during his confirmation process.

“Already, Kavanaugh has weighed in on two defining issues buried in the Court’s ‘shadow docket,’ the dusky realm of Court actions that do not address the merits of cases, but can prove consequential in themselves or provide major hints on the final resolution of major issues,” Yeomans writes. In those decisions, Kavanaugh has acted just as his opponents said he would.

His approach in the abortion case was “eerily reminiscent of his handling of Garza v. Hargan,” and would have put more hurdles in place for women seeking abortions. In Dunn v. Ray, Kavanaugh joined the 5-4 majority decision to refuse to stay the execution of Domineque Ray, who was denied the right to have his Muslim spiritual advisor at his side, rather than a Christian chaplain. The stay denial “featured twin trends of a majority on the Court to reject late challenges to executions and to show greater solicitude for the religious rights of Christians than members of other denominations or no denomination,” writes Yeomans.

The Court is slated to consider more contentious questions, including whether a citizenship question can be added to the census, a question about the display of religious imagery on public lands, and whether President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to get funding for his border wall is constitutional. Yeomans warns that “each of these matters addresses an issue raised in Kavanaugh’s confirmation and is likely to shed light on the validity of those concerns.”

Yeomans Work focuses on the challenges to the justice system in the era of Trump. Bill Yeomans is available for media interviews. Contact Laurie Kinney, Communications Director, at or 202-464-7367.