Wed, Sep 05, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Kavanaugh faces tough Senate test

LAID BARE:US President Donald Trump’s pick for the US Supreme Court is to face questions ranging from abortion rights and presidential immunity to gun control


Demonstrators march at the “Unite For Justice” rally to protest against judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court in Los Angeles on Aug. 26.

Photo: AFP

US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is set for a week of marathon hearings before the US Senate Judiciary Committee, where US senators would drill down into the judge’s background, writings and legal philosophy.

Republicans who mostly back US President Donald Trump’s pick are focusing on Kavanaugh’s 12-year career as an appellate court judge, which has produced more than 300 opinions.

Democrats are expected to take a more pointed tack, grilling the 53-year-old conservative on hot-button issues that could swing the court’s majority rightward.

Four days of hearings were to begin yesterday.

Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Monday night fumed over the committee receiving more than 42,000 pages of documents about Kavanaugh’s years with the administration of former US president George W. Bush the night before the hearings got under way.

He called for a delay until Kavanaugh’s records could be reviewed.

“This underscores just how absurd this process is,” Schumer said in a tweet. “Not a single senator will be able to review these records before tomorrow.”

Democrats have argued for weeks that Kavanaugh’s Bush administration records were not being provided for review to the fullest extent possible.

Here are the issues to watch as the battle over Kavanaugh’s confirmation unfolds:


Among the most consequential questions of the hearings is whether Kavanaugh’s confirmation could alter the landmark 1973 case that solidified abortion rights.

Kavanaugh has said publicly, and in private talks with US senators, that he believes the case is settled law.

However, he has not said if it was correctly decided.

Democrats want to unpack his legal thinking for a fuller understanding of his views.

Kavanaugh’s answers would be critical in winning the backing from two key swing votes, US senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who are alone among US Senate Republicans in publicly supporting access to abortion.


Despite working on Kenneth Starr’s team investigating former US president Bill Clinton, Kavanaugh has long held that sitting US presidents should be shielded from intrusive probes.

It is an expansive view of executive power and it is particularly important now, amid special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the 2016 US presidential election.

Trump has complained that the investigation is a “witch hunt” and he wants it to come to an end.

Kavanaugh is expected to be grilled over key legal questions like: “Can the US president be subpoenaed to appear before Mueller?” and, “Is the US president immune from prosecution?”

“It is an unavoidable question,” said Democratic US Senator Chris Coons, previewing the kinds of questions he will be asking: “Did this president choose you because of your view of presidential power?”


While US senators are quizzing Kavanaugh in Washington, a court case against the Affordable Care Act brought by 20 Republican state attorneys general is expected to be unfolding in Texas.

The case centers on the “Obamacare” requirement that all Americans carry insurance and that insurers, in turn, not discriminate for pre-existing health conditions.

Kavanaugh issued a 2011 opinion that some conservatives viewed as favorable to the mandate, but Democrats worry he will provide a key vote on the court against it.


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