Senate concludes Kavanaugh confirmation hearing

DEVIL YOU KNOW::Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar told Democratic lawmakers that they would likely get someone worse if they blocked the judge’s confirmation


Sun, Sep 09, 2018 - Page 5

After two marathon days questioning US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, US senators on Friday concluded his confirmation hearing by listening to others talk about him — friends stressing his fairness and warmth, but opponents warning that he would roll back abortion rights and shield US President Donald Trump.

One of US Democrats’ star witnesses was John Dean, former US president Richard Nixon’s White House counsel who cooperated with prosecutors during the Watergate investigation.

He told lawmakers that the court with Kavanaugh on it would be “the most presidential powers-friendly court in the modern era.”

Senators on the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary are likely to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Sept. 20, with a vote by the full Senate the following week.

US Republicans hope to confirm the judge, who would nudge the court further to the right, in time for the first day of court’s new term, Oct. 1.

With special counsel Robert Mueller deep into his investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, committee Democrats expressed concerns throughout the days-long hearing that Kavanaugh would side with Trump on questions such as whether a president can be forced to testify.

Kavanaugh, like previous nominees, declined to answer hypothetical questions that might come before him as a justice.

Abortion was another main focus throughout the hearing, with Democrats portraying Kavanaugh as a judge who might vote to undercut or overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion.

Senate Democrats, in the minority 51-49, hope to appeal to two Republican senators who support abortion rights to break from their party and vote against Kavanaugh.

At Friday’s session, New York University law professor Melissa Murray told lawmakers that Kavanaugh would provide the “necessary fifth vote that would utterly eviscerate” Roe v. Wade.

On the Republican side, witnesses testifying in support of Kavanaugh included long-time friends and former law clerks.

They talked about his intelligence and open-mindedness, calling him “thoughtful,” “humble,” “wonderfully warm” and a “fair-minded and independent jurist.”

A number praised his concerted efforts to hire minorities and women as law clerks.

Democratic witnesses expressed concern about Kavanaugh’s record on a range of issues including affirmative action, the rights of people with disabilities, access to birth control and abortion.

Democratic witnesses also included a student who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and Rochelle Garza, the legal guardian for a pregnant immigrant teenager whose quest for an abortion Kavanaugh would have delayed last year.

Yale University law professor Akhil Reed Amar, a liberal testifying in support of Kavanaugh, had a message for Democratic senators.

“Don’t be mad. He’s smart. Be careful what you wish for. Our party controls neither the White House nor the Senate,” he said. “If you torpedo Kavanaugh, you’ll likely end up with someone worse.”