by Fred Lucas
The confirmation hearings for federal appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to become the next Supreme Court justice will begin on Sept. 4 and last three to four days, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced Friday.
Grassley’s announcement comes as Senate Democrats sought to further stall the hearings, demanding more documents on Kavanaugh’s service in President George W. Bush’s White House and as a lawyer on independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.
“As I said after his nomination, Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most respected jurists in the country and one of the most qualified nominees ever to be considered by the Senate for a seat on our highest court,” said Grassley in a statement.
Kavanaugh has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2006. President Donald Trump nominated him July 9 to fill the vacancy of the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
My team has already reviewed every page of the over 4,800 pages of judicial opinions Judge Kavanaugh wrote, over 6,400 pages of opinions he joined, more than 125,000 pages of records produced from his White House legal service, and over 17,000 pages in response to the most comprehensive questionnaire ever submitted to a nominee.
He’s a mainstream judge. He has a record of judicial independence and applying the law as it is written. He’s met with dozens of senators who have nothing but positive things to say.
At this current pace, we have plenty of time to review the rest of emails and other records that we will receive from President Bush and the National Archives. It’s time for the American people to hear directly from Judge Kavanaugh at his public hearing.
However, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., attacked the decision to move forward with hearings in a series of tweets.
Republicans’ mad rush to hold this hearing after unilaterally deciding to block nearly all of Judge Kavanaugh’s records from public release is further evidence they are hiding important information from the American people, & continues to raise the question, #WhatAreTheyHiding?
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 10, 2018
Further, it boggles the mind that of the small portion of documents that will be public, the vast majority will be cherry-picked by a Republican operative currently working for President George W. Bush – and who also happens to be Kavanaugh’s former deputy.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 10, 2018
The Sept. 4 start date for the hearings is 57 days after Kavanaugh’s July 9 nomination. Confirmation hearings for the three most recent high court nominees—Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Neil Gorsuch—occurred 48 or 49 days after the president announced their nominations, according to Grassley’s office.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has received the largest number of executive branch records ever for the consideration of a Supreme Court nominee, according to Grassley’s office.
As of Friday, the committee has more than 184,000 pages of records from Kavanaugh’s work as a White House lawyer and his work on the Starr team. The committee anticipates getting hundreds of thousands of additional pages of executive branch documents.
The committee has reviewed 307 Kavanaugh opinions on the D.C. Circuit and the more than 17,500 pages of material he provided in response to the committee’s bipartisan questionnaire.
Conservative legal groups praised Grassley for setting a date for the hearings.
“Democrats have already announced that they oppose him, so this claim that they need more time or more documents is nothing more than a show, a fishing expedition, designed to obstruct and create gridlock,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network, said in a statement. “Judge Kavanaugh has been endorsed by leading figures on the right and the left. He is a mainstream nominee who will base his decisions on the law and the Constitution.”
President George H.W. Bush’s White House counsel, C. Boyden Gray, agreed it was time to move forward on the nomination.
“The White House has made available far more documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s executive branch service than were ever produced for any other Supreme Court nominee, including the emails he sent during his time as associate counsel to the president, which total more than 200,000 pages,” Gray said in a statement.
“Likewise, Judge Kavanaugh’s questionnaire was the most comprehensive in scope in the history of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The documents that went through his staff secretary process to the Oval Office are irrelevant to the nomination and deserve the same protection afforded Justice Kagan’s papers at the Solicitor General’s Office,” he said.
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