Commentary: A comprehensive new analysis by the National Education Association reveals that Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been a vocal and active voucher activist for nearly two decades—as a private citizen, lawyer, political staffer, and judge. The report, titled “Kavanaugh Could Unleash School Voucher Programs Throughout the Nation,” concludes that there is little doubt that Kavanaugh would use a seat on the Supreme Court to advance the agenda of Betsy DeVos and her allies to undermine public education and rob students of their opportunities to succeed. Click on this link to see an interactive timeline of Kavanaugh’s anti-public education and anti-labor record.
“What the public is learning about Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s two-decade crusade as a voucher activist indicates he is a rubber stamp for the Betsy DeVos privatization agenda,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “If confirmed, his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court would present a profound threat to our students, public education, and our communities. His confirmation would unleash a transformation of our government, entrenching laws that favor the wealthy and powerful. The Senate has a duty to stop this from happening, and we join countless other advocates calling for an immediate delay to his confirmation.”
The NEA analysis, conducted by its office of general counsel, also found that voucher activists are increasingly turning to the courts, including the Supreme Court, to achieve their goal of a universal government-funded voucher system and to weaken the educators’ unions that fight that agenda. These pro-voucher forces fully expect Judge Kavanaugh to be an ally in their quest.
An exhaustive review of Kavanaugh’s legal and political record on education issues chronicles his history as an advocate for vouchers, which, by transferring taxpayers’ money from neighborhood public schools to private schools without accountability, undermine strong public schools and destroy opportunities for all students to succeed. Vouchers are neither successful nor popular. Over and again, when voucher schemes are presented to American voters, they have rejected them. Numerous studies and documented experiences have shown that voucher programs often enable fraud and abuse of taxpayer money, and do not increase student achievement.
The recent NEA analysis also describes the extent to which voucher activists are using the courts to push their privatization agenda and to silence the voices of parents and educators who oppose such voucher schemes. The billionaires and corporate interests that financed the recent Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME also bankroll many of the groups supporting vouchers. These corporate interests have an ally in Judge Kavanaugh to weaken labor unions using the court system.
“If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh will advance Betsy DeVos’s agenda of privatizing our public schools and weakening educators’ ability to stand up for their students and their communities to oppose that agenda,” said NEA General Counsel Alice O’Brien.
Key passages from the new NEA analysis on Judge Brett Kavanaugh:
DeVos allies are in the midst of a legal campaign to achieve many of the same things Secretary DeVos has thus far failed to achieve politically. And the Supreme Court could ultimately decide whether that campaign succeeds. Pro-voucher advocates believe that Judge Brett Kavanaugh—a decades-long voucher advocate himself—can help them achieve in the Supreme Court what Secretary DeVos has not achieved yet: voucherize and privatize our public schools and silence educators and their associations who fight that agenda.
Voucher proponents not only seek to use the courts to indirectly enact vouchers—they are also turning to the courts to silence the very educators who oppose their voucher schemes. As a Kavanaugh-linked pro-voucher newsletter once put it, vouchers have “failed to catch hold in politics . . . in large part because of the vehement opposition of the teachers’ unions and the increasing identification of school choice with religious conservatives.” In order to silence the educators who have led the fight against vouchers, pro-voucher groups and their allies have launched a legal assault on education labor unions—an assault designed to bankrupt education associations and silence educator voices in education policy.
The NEA launched an aggressive, multi-layered campaign aimed at stopping Judge Brett Kavanaugh from becoming Donald Trump’s next Supreme Court justice. The campaign includes a new interactive timeline revealing Kavanaugh’s history of siding against public education, workers and unions, and with corporations and billionaires who want to privatize our education system. It also includes a six-figure, digital ad buy aimed at informing the public about Judge Kavanaugh’s two-decade effort to carry the water of privatization champions such as Betsy DeVos. NEA also is mobilizing its more than 3 million members to urge Congress to reject the nomination. Just this past Sunday, NEA hosted a conference call with U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. More than 5,000 educators joined the call to compare notes, ask questions of the senator, and to learn why she opposes Trump’s extreme nominee.
To view a link to the full NEA analysis, please click here.