What to Expect From Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearings

By Ivan Pentchoukov

President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, will face three to four days of confirmation hearings this week, starting on Sept. 4.

Trump nominated Kavanaugh on July 9 to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would shift the court to a solid conservative majority, imbuing the largely predictable hearings with historical significance.

The Process

The first day of the hearings, Sept. 4, is reserved for Kavanaugh’s opening statement as well as the statements of the Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The next day, Sept. 5, senators will question Kavanaugh.

Democrats are likely to press Kavanaugh on how he would rule on cases related to abortion, gun rights, and presidential powers, among other issues. Kavanaugh has been rehearsing his answers in mock sessions for weeks.

Republicans, most of whom are already set on voting for Kavanaugh, are expected to use their questions on topics that would help Kavanaugh make his case for confirmation.

If no major issues arise on Sept. 5 to merit a second day of questioning, Sept. 6 is reserved for outside witness statements, a session which rarely offers any surprises.

Once the hearings conclude, the Senate Judiciary Committee will issue a report to the full Senate, which then casts the final vote.

The Issues

Democrats are sure to highlight the fact that the White House blocked 102,000 pages of documents related to Kavanaugh’s work as the White House secretary for President George W. Bush. Bush’s lawyers combed through documents from that time and decided that 27,000 of them were protected under “constitutional privilege.”

The other 102,000 pages of documents related to Kavanaugh’s record were not turned over for other reasons. The committee has had access to more than 415,000 pages on Kavanaugh’s background, Bush’s lawyer said in the letter.

Kavanaugh has already produced more than a million pages of documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee, more than any other Supreme Court nominee in history, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Democratic Senators are expected to grill Kavanaugh on a range of ideologically divisive issues, looking to either pressure him into making a misstep or angling for an exchange that could provide media fodder.

The Vote

The committee hearings will lead to a full Senate vote, where Republicans hold a single-vote majority.

Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, were thought to be swing votes on the confirmation. But in a sign that they are preparing to vote with the other Republicans, both have recently backed their party’s push to restrict the number of documents Kavanaugh would be required to produce.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was also briefly counted as a swing vote after stating that he would keep an open mind about Kavanaugh. But, after meeting with the judge, Paul announced that he would be voting to confirm Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, three Democratic senators are still considered swing votes. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of (D-N.D.), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) all voted to confirm Trump’s previous supreme court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. All three senators are running for reelection in states Trump won in 2016 and are likely to break away from the party line again in order to improve their electoral standing.

Prior to 2017, a successful filibuster would force a 60-vote supermajority requirement on Supreme Court nominations. Republicans changed Senate rules in 2017 so that a Supreme Court nominee would require a simple majority to confirm.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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