Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh declined to answer a question from Sen. Kamala Harris on marriage equality.
Harris pressed Kavanaugh to say whether he felt Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, was correctly decided.
Instead, he made note of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, in which Colorado baker Jack Phillips won a narrow ruling in a case in which he argued his right to free speech would be violated if he were forced to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, calling it “relevant to your question.”
“Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion…The days of discriminating against gay and lesbian Americans, or treating gay and lesbian Americans as inferior in dignity and worth, are over,” Kavanaugh said.
When Harris inquired if he agreed with that decision, Kavanaugh declined to answer, taking the position that it would be improper for him to comment on recent or pending cases.
“Brett Kavanaugh’s refusal to answer very basic, very direct questions about the Supreme Court’s historic ruling bringing marriage equality nationwide is alarming and completely unacceptable,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement.
“The Obergefell decision is settled law. If this nominee cannot so much as affirm that or the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and our families, he should not and must not be granted a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.”
“I think the potential is there for him to have a dramatic negative impact,” Jim Obergefell, whose legal battle made marriage equality possible, told The Advocate.
“I’m worried that it could cause people who have been discriminated against not to pursue legal action because they might doubt the idea that they could take their case all the way to the Supreme Court and win. I worry that they will decide it’s not worth it.”
Obergefell added that he would have been “terrified” to have his case before the Supreme Court if it included all the justices currently on the bench plus Kavanaugh.