Where Does Brett Kavanaugh Stand on Religious Liberty?

President Donald Trump announced on Monday evening that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is his pick to replace the retiring United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Kavanaugh is already being hailed by many conservative groups as an excellent jurist while being vilified by many liberal organizations as a detriment to civil liberties.

As a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2006, Kavanaugh has weighed in on many cases over the years, including a few that deal with religious freedom issues.

Here are four cases that involved the issue of religious liberty in which Kavanaugh offered an opinion. They include both opinions that sided with and stood against the majority.

Chaplaincy Of Full Gospel Churches v. United States Navy (2008)

In the case of Chaplaincy Of Full Gospel Churches, et al., Appellants v. United States Navy, et al., a group of Protestant Navy chaplains filed a lawsuit arguing that the Navy’s retirement system gives preferential treatment to Catholic chaplains.

Writing the opinion of the court, Kavanaugh argued that the Protestant chaplains lacked standing and ruled against their lawsuit, affirming a lower court decision.

“If plaintiffs had alleged that the Navy discriminated against them on account of their religion, plaintiffs would have alleged a concrete and particularized harm sufficient to constitute injury-in-fact for standing purposes,” wrote Kavanaugh.

“But plaintiffs have conceded that they themselves did not suffer employment discrimination on account of their religion. They have conceded that the Navy did not deny them any benefits or opportunities on account of their religion. … Rather, they suggest that other chaplains suffered such discrimination.”

Newdow v. Roberts (2010)

The case of Michael Newdow, et al., Appellants v. John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, et al. centered on an atheist activist’s lawsuit over the religious aspects of former President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony.

The court affirmed an earlier dismissal of the Newdow lawsuit, with Kavanaugh authoring a concurring opinion in which he argued that, contrary to what the majority opinion said, plaintiffs did have standing to sue.

“The government initially argues that plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the presidential oath and inaugural prayers. I disagree. Under the relevant Supreme Court precedents, plaintiffs have demonstrated injury-in-fact, causation, and redressability, the three components of standing,” wrote Kavanaugh.

Despite his belief that Newdow had standing to sue, Kavanaugh also stated that he thought the lawsuit would fail to prove a violation of the Establishment Clause, citing the 1983 U.S. Supreme Court case Marsh v. Chambers.

“The Supreme Court’s holding in Marsh — allowing government-sponsored religious speech or prayer at a public event where prayers have traditionally occurred, at least so long as the prayers are not proselytizing (seeking to convert) or otherwise exploitative — does not satisfy all Americans,” continued Kavanaugh.

“No holding on this issue would in our pluralistic society. But the precedent has endured, and as a lower court we must follow and apply it in this case.”

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Source: Christian Post