As women, Democrats and activists are opposing Brett Kavanaugh‘s confirmation amid his sexual assault allegations, historically Black colleges and universities also may have reasons to express concerns about the nominee’s run to the highest court in the U.S.
A Kavanaugh confirmation would mean a major change for the Supreme Court: the achievement of a conservative majority. If that majority is achieved, then the Supreme Court’s decisions and voting on issues relevant to historically Black colleges and universities could largely reflect right-leaning beliefs. Kavanaugh — a Trump-backed nominee who would become the ninth justice on the bench if confirmed — could be a conservative swing vote like retired justice Anthony Kennedy who had deciding votes in same sex-marriage, abortion access and affirmative action cases while on the court.
A conservative-majority court would still vote on issues and policies affecting HBCUs, with the power to order reversals of past judicial decisions and change how various schools conduct business, HBCU Digest reported.
For one, the court could have to vote on an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board decision allowing non-tenure-track faculty unionization after the issue makes its way through the lower courts. The conservative-majority court could overturn the decision, impacting the ability for schools to attract and retain full-time professors and making way for more of them to leave their schools without the ability to unionize, according to HBCU Digest.
Second, the voter gerrymandering and redistricting could also be an issue of greater concern if it came before a conservative-majority court. The Supreme Court justices has heard cases on gerrymandered districts in states such as in North Carolina, which is home to HBCUs such as North Carolina Central University and Johnson C. Smith University. Black college students have fought GOP gerrymandering and redistricting, which limited Black voters who favor Democrats from having representation in state elections. Students have also bolstered voter registration and turnout at their schools to swing elections — something that could change if a conservative majority happens on the Supreme Court.
Third, issues of free speech on campuses would likely also be a hot-button issue for the court. A conservative majority may lead to decisions that impact how HBCUs enforce and interpret free speech policies, the report said.
It will be important for HBCUs to know that a Kavanaugh confirmation could have a significant impact. It is equally important that the schools know where Kavanaugh stands on policies that are crucial to HBCUs to keep their doors open if the controversial nominee is confirmed.