By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator

Cautious optimism filtered through the ranks of pro-life supporters after the confirmation of new Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, following a months long, and often contentious process.

But supporters also understand that even if the majority conservative Supreme Court ultimately overturns Roe v. Wade, the battleground will simply shift to the states. Currently, 18 states provide women with a constitutional right to have an abortion.

“If (Roe v. Wade) is overturned all of a sudden abortions will not go away,” said Rob Tasman, executive director of Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. “It will be deferred to the individual states and that is where the fight will be.”

Kavanaugh, who was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 6, takes the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired July 31.

Chief Justice John Roberts officially swore in Kavanaugh after the Senate’s 50-48 confirmation vote, which took place despite the interruptions of screaming protesters who had to be escorted from the gallery that oversees the Senate chamber.

The demonstrators were voicing their objection to the confirmation because Kavanaugh had been accused of sexual misconduct. The vote followed the conclusion of a weeklong FBI probe. The agency’s final report was not released to the public but made available to all the senators for their review; the agency found no corroborating evidence on the claims.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that Judge Kavanaugh will help bring this court to a position which they may be inclined to help protect unborn children and the health and safety of women in our country today,” said Louisiana Right to Life director Ben Clapper. “There are laws right now in the federal courts that are on their way through the appellate and to the Supreme Court that may be what is needed to test this new court and see to what extent they’re willing to challenge what Roe. v. Wade said, and to change the law of our land of abortion on demand right now.”

Tasman said the Center for Reproductive Rights has a color-coded map of the country projecting the most likely states to allow abortion, those who will likely prohibit abortion and those that are uncertain. He said the entire southern portion of the United States and some states in the Midwest are solid red, meaning they would unlikely adopt abortion-friendly legislation.

However, he said states on the east and west coasts are almost entirely yellow, where pro-abortion legislation would likely pass.

He called Louisiana a “great” pro-life state and indeed it is regarded as perhaps the most pro-life state in the country. But he did say there is some concern that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, some legislators, who have been silent on the issue in the past, might feel emboldened or empowered to have a strong voice to overturn some of the anti-abortion legislation the Legislature has passed in recent years.

“I think we have very good leadership in the Catholic Church, in (other denominations), in Louisiana Right to Life,” Tasman said. “They have done so much good, constructive work.

“I don’t think you can be elected to a statewide office in the state of Louisiana if you are anything but pro-life. I don’t think that’s possible. I think that’s a credit to all of the groups and the bright people who have been on the ground since Roe v. Wade.”

During an emotional swearing-in ceremony held in the East Room of the White House, Kavanaugh, who is Catholic, said the Supreme Court is an institution of law and not a political or partisan institution.

“The justices do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle. We do not caucus in separate rooms,” Kavanaugh said. “The Supreme Court is a team of nine, and I will always be a team player on the team of nine.”

In an Oct. 6 statement, Kavanaugh’s high school alma mater, Jesuit-run Georgetown Preparatory School in the Washington suburb of North Bethesda, Maryland, noted how when he first accepted Trump’s nomination, Kavanaugh stated that “one of the goals of Jesuit education is the aspiration to be a ‘man or woman for others.’ ”

“The call to public service is one of the highest manifestations of that ethic,” the school said. “Georgetown Prep congratulates Justice Kavanaugh on his confirmation and promises our prayers for him and his family as he strives to be that person for others in the service of our nation.”

Kavanaugh, 53, graduated from the school in 1983 and joins another alumnus of the school on the court, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, who graduated in 1985. Gorsuch, who also was nominated by Trump, was confirmed in April 2017.

CNS contributed to this report.