Catholic social justice group, however, raises objections to his nomination
(CNS) — During the second day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Sept. 5, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh said his experience serving the homeless with Catholic Charities and tutoring at Washington Jesuit Academy has influenced him as a judge because of the importance of “standing in the shoes of others.”
A day earlier, however, a letter signed by more than 1,500 Catholic nuns, priests and other church leaders from around the country addressed to U.S. senators voiced concerns about Kavanaugh regarding what they say is his past record on health care, immigration, labor rights, voting rights, and the death penalty.
At the Sept. 5 hearing, Kavanaugh noted that he regularly serves meals with Catholic Charities’ St. Maria’s Meals program in Washington and he said talking to the people whom they serve helps him to understand the situation that they are in.
“We are all God’s children. We are all equal,” he said. “People have gotten there because maybe they have a mental illness; maybe they had a terrible family situation; maybe they lost a job and had no family. But every person you serve a meal to is just as good as me or better.”
Kavanaugh noted Msgr. John Enzler, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Washington, as an important influence in his life who has helped him to think about others. He has known Msgr. Enzler since Kavanaugh was 9 years old and an altar boy at Little Flower Parish in Bethesda. The priest was in the audience at the White House when President Donald Trump announced that Kavanaugh would be the next Supreme Court nominee July 9.
As another influence of his volunteering, Kavanaugh cited the Bible passage from Matthew 25, where Jesus said: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.”
Kavanaugh said he “tries to follow the lesson of serving the least fortunate among us” as outlined in those six examples.
He also tutors at Washington Jesuit Academy in Washington, which is a tuition-free Catholic middle school where low-income students receive three meals and do their homework before returning home from school.
To describe the way that those experiences have influenced him as a judge, he borrowed the words of a lesson about “To Kill a Mockingbird” by his sixth-grade English and religion teacher, Chris Abell, at Mater Dei School in Bethesda. While they were learning about the book, Kavanaugh said his teacher emphasized the theme of “standing in the shoes of others.”
“We could all be that homeless person, we could all be that kid who needs a more structured educational environment,” said Kavanaugh.
The letter protesting his nomination, however, tells senators to examine Kavanaugh’s “concern for the common good.”
“As Catholics, we believe that any government official — including a Supreme Court Justice — must be concerned with the needs of people who are marginalized, not just the rich and powerful or a member of one’s own political party,” says the letter circulated by the Catholic social justice lobby Network.
The letter expresses worry and asks what would happen to legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, cases involving immigration issues, voting and labor rights, as well as capital punishment, should Kavanaugh become a justice.
His record is unclear, they say, on health care and the death penalty and “previous decisions indicate he will not treat the immigrant community with the respect our faith and our nation teach they deserve” and he “has a record of not treating workers with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Kavanaugh, a circuit judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, has in the past ruled against workers’ right to unionize and his record on immigration is limited. He also was part of a three-judge panel that upheld a law that required voters in South Carolina to show photo identification before casting a ballot, an action that some say disenfranchised minority voters who were less likely to have ID.
As Catholics, we believe that every citizen has a responsibility and a right to take part in the political process,” said the letter. “Judge Kavanaugh’s record indicates he appears to choose to disenfranchise voters rather than include people in our democracy.”