Kennedy’s Exit Could Entrench Religious Privilege and Discrimination, Warns Center for Inquiry


For Immediate Release: June 27, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

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The last bulwark against religious privilege and oppression has fallen with the announced retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, warned the Center for Inquiry today, urging the U.S Senate to ensure that whoever President Trump chooses to replace him will not work to turn back the clock on hard-won civil rights.

“Raising another Alito or Gorsuch to the bench for a lifetime appointment will fundamentally reshape the Court for many years to come, and it will be at the expense of women, racial and religious minorities, the LGBTQ community, and atheists,” said Nick Little, CFI’s Vice President and General Counsel. “It will be up to the men and women of the Senate, regardless of party, to keep this Supreme Court seat from being given away to an ideologue.”

Justice Kennedy will likely be remembered in large part for his decisions extending rights to LGBTQ Americans. In Romer v. Evans, he struck a Colorado constitutional amendment that prohibited the banning of discrimination based on sexual orientation. In Lawrence v. Texas, he found that laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy were unconstitutional. In U.S. v. Windsor, he struck part of the Defense Of Marriage Act, and in Obergefell v. Hodges, he found that same-sex marriage was a protected right across the country.

“Kennedy was far from a perfect Justice,” added Little. “He joined the majority in Hobby Lobby, which distorted the definition of religious freedom to allow corporations unjustifiable exemptions from the law. But his departure hurts America on many critical issues.”

CFI warned that on decisions core to its mission, including Establishment Clause cases, reproductive rights, and the protection of the LGBTQ community, any replacement by this administration might serve to further entrench religious privilege and legitimize discrimination.

“Though we fear this will fall on deaf ears, we nonetheless implore President Trump to nominate a Justice who will defend the constitutional rights of all Americans, not wrench us back to a darker era,” said Little. “Failing that, the Senate will have to find the courage to push back against this president.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.