With Donald Trump’s blessing and an all but guaranteed confirmation vote, Brett Kavanaugh is on his way to becoming Anthony Kennedy’s replacement on the United States Supreme Court. But young women—an increasingly crucial voting bloc in American politics—aren’t sold. “He’s replacing a justice who was relatively even-keeled and did not let personal opinions impact his rulings,” one millennial woman wrote in a survey conducted by theSkimm. “He could swing the Supreme Court’s decisions conservative for the next 30-plus years.” Another added: “Historically when the court has leaned too far in one direction politically, the nation as a whole suffers.” This sentiment is widely shared among female millennials, according to a new survey conducted by the Hive, theSkimm, and SurveyMonkey as part of Millennial Takeover 2018, our year-long editorial project in advance of midterm elections. Perhaps most important, the results suggest that Kavanaugh could dent the court’s favorability among millennial women even further, potentially causing a permanent shift in public opinion.
One of the bigger fears surrounding Kavanaugh’s appointment is the future of reproductive rights. “There’s no doubt that Judge Kavanaugh is smart, hardworking, and professionally qualified. He’s the sort of nominee any Republican president would have made,” Louis Michael Seidman, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University told my colleague Abigail Tracy last month. “That said, he is emphatically a Republican. Virtually his entire career has been in service of the Republican political agenda, and there’s no reason to believe that he will behave any differently as a Supreme Court justice.” Kavanaugh will almost certainly side with fellow conservatives on the Supreme Court to hollow out Roe v. Wade, a decision that 71 percent of Americans, and even a majority (52 percent) of Republicans, oppose. Millennial women are more in favor of keeping Roe v. Wade than their male counterparts (75 percent versus 67 percent), and selected reproductive rights and immigration policy as the two areas they believe are most likely to change under Justice Kavanaugh.
Even outside of reproductive rights, Kavanaugh’s views aren’t necessarily favored by young women. Forty percent of female millennials would prefer a moderate nominee on the Supreme Court—the same percentage of Americans in general who would prefer a moderate candidate—while 35 percent of millennial women would like to see a nominee swing left or into “very liberal” territory, and only 21 percent would prefer a more conservative-leaning judge. Few millennial women are familiar with Kavanaugh specifically—just 30 percent say they know “a lot” or “some” about him—with just 26 percent approving of his nomination to replace Justice Kennedy. (Sixty-four percent disapprove.) It is abundantly clear, however, that support for Kavanaugh is a partisan issue. Though conservative female millennials are no more likely to know about Kavanaugh—just 28 percent say they’re familiar with him—a whopping 60 percent say they approve of his nomination.