- Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings began Tuesday for his nomination to the Supreme Court.
- President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court pick could be even more conservative than his last choice, according to a study.
- This graphic breaks down how Kavanaugh likely falls on controversial issues, based on an equation researchers developed.
Kavanaugh’s nomination has set off a bitter bipartisan battle, as Democratic senators have tried to block his nomination and voiced concerns over his experience as a White House lawyer and past decisions dealing with controversial issues.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said Kavanaugh’s past casts him as “far, far right,” which would be an extreme addition to as the most pivotal nomination in decades.
Researchers Lee Epstein, Andrew D. Martin, and Kevin Quinn conducted an analysis of Trump’s potential Supreme Court picks back in December, to determine how conservative they were.
Since judges are notoriously close-lipped about their political leanings or how they might rule on potential cases, the researchers used an equation taking into account the political affiliations of the senators from their home states and the president appointing them. For current and past justices, they also looked at their voting record on cases.
Here’s what they found:
Republicans’ 51-49 slight hold on the Senate predicts a tough process ahead for Kavanaugh, which was made more contentious after committee Democrats spoke out against a White House decision to withhold 27,000 documents – many from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush administration – citing “constitutional privilege.”
Kavanaugh’s hearing began Tuesday morning despite several outbursts from protestors and Senate Democrats moving to adjourn until more documents were made available. His hearings will likely last all week.
Roe v. Wade
President Donald Trump said during the 2016 presidential campaign that he would appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case granting women the constitutional right to an abortion.
In his 2006 hearing to be confirmed to the DC circuit court, Kavanaugh said he would not share his “personal view” on the case, but would uphold the Supreme Court’s ruling, as it is “binding precedent of the court.” He has also stated several times since his nomination that he did not intend to scrap the landmark abortion rights ruling.
But the conservative judge has been stricter on the issue of abortion as a whole. Most recently, Kavanaugh made headlines in an October 2017 when he backed the Trump administration’s arguments in his dissent to a ruling that allowed an undocumented minor in US custody to receive an abortion.
In his dissent, Kavanaugh wrote the Supreme Court had established “the government has permissible interests in favouring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion.”
He wrote that the decision to extend that right to an undocumented immigrant was “as novel as it is wrong.”
Lawmakers have zeroed in on Kavanaugh’s thinking on whether the president can be investigated, while Trump’s campaign is in the crosshairs of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Kavanaugh was associate counsel on the team led by Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated former President Bill Clinton’s extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
As part of Starr’s team, Kavanaugh helped draft the report recommending Clinton’s impeachment, in which he wrote independent counsel investigations can take “too long,” easily become “politicized,” and can go beyond their original scope. He also expressed doubt that a president can be indicted while in office.
The Second Amendment
Within the first few lines of questioning in his hearing, Kavanaugh was pressed by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on his past remarks on gun control, which she said painted him as “pro-gun.”
In a 2011 dissent to a DC circuit court’s decision to affirm Washington, DC’s gun registration law and ban on semi-automatic firearms, Kavanaugh called the ban “unconstitutional,” as the Supreme Court had established similar guns were “constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens.”
Democrats plan to try and block Kavanaugh’s nomination, and will keep trying to get him to open up about his views on controversial issues as the hearings continue this week.
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