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LGBT & Healthcare Advocates Warn Kavanaugh Confirmation Could Mean End of Affordable Care Act

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Protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court on Monday night to protest Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Advocates say that Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation could lead to the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. In Washington, D.C., we speak with Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. In New York, we speak with Rachel Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization serving people living with HIV.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Fatima Goss Graves, who is in Washington, D.C., president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, her recent op-ed for the New York Daily News headlined “A failed litmus test: Trump taints his Supreme Court pick with his promise to anti-abortion extremists.” Share your reaction to President Trump’s pick to the Supreme Court, and then also talk about the ACA, Obamacare, and what this choice means for healthcare in America.

FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: Well, what we know here is that this isn’t a typical time. You know, President Trump framed this process from the beginning as one in which he was guaranteeing, promising that his justice would overturn Roe v. Wade. And so we have to take him at his word. We know the steps he has taken to fulfill those sorts of political campaign promises. And so, what that really means is that we can’t have sort of a typical Senate process where, you know, the nominee is asked questions, and they say, “Yes, precedent is a thing. Yes, I respect precedent.” We need a deeper investigation. We need far more here, because the process has been tainted from the beginning. When you pair Trump’s promises with the fact that he outsourced the creation of a list to choose from from anti-abortion groups, it was a little bit baked from the beginning. It’s not a typical time.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what do you see as the potential for being able to block this nomination, not only in terms of the two Republican women who might be expected to vote no, but also of the Democrats from red states, the Democrats, senators from red states, who may end up voting for him?

FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: The good news is that Trump has made clear what is at stake, by saying that his justice will overturn Roe. So we know what is at play. Seventy percent of people do not want Roe v. Wade overturned. That is not the constitutional view that they are seeking. It’s not the world that they want to live in. And so, we have seen women rise in exciting and surprising ways, time and again. They are the ones who have been making calls. They are the ones who are showing up at town halls. And they are the ones who will be showing up to fight this nomination.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the ACA, Fatima?

FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: Well, that’s another one of Trump’s promises, that he would appoint justices who would basically dismantle the Affordable Care Act. And we know what is at stake, especially with regard to pre-existing conditions. You know, we don’t—it wasn’t that long ago when insurance companies used the idea of pre-existing conditions to be able to discriminate and charge people more or not allow them to have insurance at all. And women were treated as a pre-existing condition. And specific conditions that women have, whether it was having a pregnancy, was considered a pre-existing condition. A C-section was considered a pre-existing condition. Even people who had experienced domestic violence or who had been raped and sought medical treatment, that was a sort of pre-existing condition that would allow insurance companies to discriminate. So we know what is at stake here and the promises that have been laid out. That is the sort of thing that will have people out in giant numbers. We saw already the way people came out when the Republicans tried to eliminate the ACA. That was a political fight that was won already. The same issues are on the table here.

AMY GOODMAN: Last night, over a thousand people rallied outside the Supreme Court to protest the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. This is Mara Keisling, founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

MARA KEISLING: People thought we couldn’t save the ACA, and we saved it over and over and over again. Are we ready to save it again? This is not—this fight is not about Rs and Ds, senators. This fight is about the ACA. It’s about Roe v. Wade. It is about protecting people’s health and their lives. Transgender people will not go back to being an uninsurable pre-existing condition.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Mara Keisling. We’re joined by Rachel Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest LGBTQ legal organization. If you could elaborate on that and more, your concerns after President Trump made his nomination last night?

RACHEL TIVEN: Absolutely. I think what’s crucial here is we cannot afford 40 more years of Trump values on this court. And we have to—what we’ve learned from the Trump presidency is that you have to believe what people say. You have to watch what they do, and take them at their word. And Brett Kavanaugh has been so aggressively hostile to abortion rights and so eager to establish a license to discriminate for people who don’t feel comfortable following nondiscrimination law. And that is why we are worried.

Abortion rights are the foundation of individual liberty in the United States. And if abortion rights fall—and as my colleagues described, we are one vote away from possibly seeing Roe v. Wade, not just abortion, but birth control, undermined. If that happens, then LGBTQ people are directly at risk. It is the foundation of individual liberty and our rights to be free—not just marriage equality, but free in our own bedrooms—are really at risk.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Could you talk about the Family Research Council, which was very active when Kavanaugh was nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals back in 2006, advocating for him, their impact, as well?

RACHEL TIVEN: They pushed—they pushed for him very aggressively and cheered when, after a lengthy, lengthy process, he was eventually put on the court.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: He had a lot of trouble in that confirmation hearing.

RACHEL TIVEN: He had a lot of trouble in the confirmation hearings. And there were senators who felt that he was not truthful. So, I think that it will take a very long time to look through this record. And I think that senators like Senator Durbin, who said at the time that they were not sure that he had been forthcoming, deserve a full accounting of his record and of all of the decisions that he has written and the dissents that he has written since then. That’s going to take a long time. And the closer we get to the election, the more the McConnell standard should apply here. And we should let the American people decide, if that’s what Senator McConnell said was appropriate when Merrick Garland was nominated to the court, then surely that should be appropriate here.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. Our guests are Rachel Tiven, head of Lambda Legal; Fatima Goss Graves, with the National Women’s Law Center in Washington; David Cole, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union; and Cecile Richards, former head of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

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