President Donald Trump announced on Monday evening that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is his pick to replace the retiring United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Kavanaugh is already being hailed by many conservative groups as an excellent jurist while being vilified by many liberal organizations as a detriment to civil liberties.
As a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2006, Kavanaugh has weighed in on many cases over the years, including a few that deal with religious freedom issues.
Here are four cases that involved the issue of religious liberty in which Kavanaugh offered an opinion. They include both opinions that sided with and stood against the majority.
Chaplaincy Of Full Gospel Churches v. United States Navy (2008)
In the case of Chaplaincy Of Full Gospel Churches, et al., Appellants v. United States Navy, et al., a group of Protestant Navy chaplains filed a lawsuit arguing that the Navy's retirement system gives preferential treatment to Catholic chaplains.
Writing the opinion of the court, Kavanaugh argued that the Protestant chaplains lacked standing and ruled against their lawsuit, affirming a lower court decision.
"If plaintiffs had alleged that the Navy discriminated against them on account of their religion, plaintiffs would have alleged a concrete and particularized harm sufficient to constitute injury-in-fact for standing purposes," wrote Kavanaugh.
"But plaintiffs have conceded that they themselves did not suffer employment discrimination on account of their religion. They have conceded that the Navy did not deny them any benefits or opportunities on account of their religion. ... Rather, they suggest that other chaplains suffered such discrimination."
Newdow v. Roberts (2010)
The case of Michael Newdow, et al., Appellants v. John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, et al. centered on an atheist activist's lawsuit over the religious aspects of former President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony.
The court affirmed an earlier dismissal of the Newdow lawsuit, with Kavanaugh authoring a concurring opinion in which he argued that, contrary to what the majority opinion said, plaintiffs did have standing to sue.
"The government initially argues that plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the presidential oath and inaugural prayers. I disagree. Under the relevant Supreme Court precedents, plaintiffs have demonstrated injury-in-fact, causation, and redressability, the three components of standing," wrote Kavanaugh.
Despite his belief that Newdow had standing to sue, Kavanaugh also stated that he thought the lawsuit would fail to prove a violation of the Establishment Clause, citing the 1983 U.S. Supreme Court case Marsh v. Chambers.
"The Supreme Court's holding in Marsh — allowing government-sponsored religious speech or prayer at a public event where prayers have traditionally occurred, at least so long as the prayers are not proselytizing (seeking to convert) or otherwise exploitative — does not satisfy all Americans," continued Kavanaugh.
"No holding on this issue would in our pluralistic society. But the precedent has endured, and as a lower court we must follow and apply it in this case."
Mahoney v. Doe (2011)
In the case of Patrick Mahoney, Reverend, et al., v. John Doe, police officer, Metropolitan Police Department, et al., a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court ruled against a group of Christian pro-life activists who planned to chalk messages in front of the White House in protest of then President Barack Obama's pro-abortion views.
The panel sided with a lower court in rejecting the pro-life activists' arguments that the ban on their chalking violated the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In a concurring opinion, Kavanaugh explained that he agreed with the decision "in its entirety" and felt that the ban on chalking in front of the White House was "a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction for purposes of First Amendment doctrine."
"I do not want the fog of First Amendment doctrine to make this case seem harder than it is. No one has a First Amendment right to deface government property," added Kavanaugh.
"No one has a First Amendment right, for example, to spray-paint the Washington Monument or smash the windows of a police car."
Priests for Life v. HHS (2015)
The case of Priests for Life et al. v. United States Department of Health and Human Services centered on a pro-life group suing the Obama administration over its controversial preventive services mandate that required religious organizations to pay for birth control and abortion-inducing drugs.
When Priests for Life filed a petition to get a full court hearing for their appeal, the D.C. Circuit Court rejected their request when a majority did not vote in favor of it.
Kavanaugh authored one of the dissents, arguing that the refusal to grant the petition contradicted the results of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College v. Burwell.
"We are a lower court in a hierarchical judicial system headed by 'one supreme Court.' U.S. Const. art. III, § 1. It is not our job to re-litigate or trim or expand Supreme Court decisions. Our job is to follow them as closely and carefully and dispassionately as we can," wrote Kavanaugh.
"Doing so here, in my respectful view, leads to the conclusion that the plaintiff religious organizations should ultimately prevail on their RFRA claim, but not to the full extent that they seek."