Just the Facts

Five Facts on What Happened at the Kavanaugh Hearings

By Emma Petasis
September 11, 2018 | Blog

This past week, U. S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced intense questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  While the hearings lasted four days, with opening statements made on the first and witness testimony heard on the fourth, most of the focus was understandably directed towards how Judge Kavanaugh handled questions from senators.  Here are five facts on what happened at the Kavanaugh hearings:

On July 9, President Trump announced he was nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court following the retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy

Judge Kavanaugh currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Prior to holding this position, he clerked for Justice Kennedy before serving as assistant to the president and staff secretary for President George W. Bush. Throughout his career, he has been involved in many high-profile legal battles, including working as a top deputy for independent counsel Kenneth Starr in the investigation of President Bill Clinton.  Kavanaugh has a consistent track record as a conservative and his nomination to replace Kennedy, the most moderate voice on the court, has sparked strong push back from Democrats who fear he could decisively shift the court to the right.

This past week the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Kavanaugh for two 13-hour days

Many of the questions directed towards Kavanaugh focused on controversial subjects such as his views on abortion, the Mueller probe, and the limits of presidential power.  In most cases he refrained from making commitments or providing his own concrete opinions on specific cases.  For example, when asked whether a president could be prosecuted in office, Kavanaugh declined to elaborate, arguing that it was essential for him to remain completely impartial on matters that could come before the court at some point in the future.

Hundreds of protestors arrived in Washington last week to voice their opposition to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination

Motivated by issues such as abortion, which pro-choice advocates fear Kavanaugh could rule against if he is appointed, the protestors disrupted hearings and held sit-ins around the Senate grounds. In all, 212 protestors were arrested over the course of the week for offenses ranging from disorderly conduct to resisting arrest and simple assault.

The hearings were marked by intense partisan fighting from senators on both sides of the aisle

Throughout the process, Democratic senators have complained that they were not given sufficient access to hundreds of thousands of papers relating to Kavanaugh’s record.  Democrats unsuccessfully tried to use this as an argument to adjourn the hearing and delay the confirmation process until all the documents had been released and reviewed.  Last Thursday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) escalated the confrontation, releasing classified documents to the public that had been available only to senators on the Judiciary Committee. In response, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Republican whip and a member of the Judiciary committee called Booker’s actions “irresponsible and outrageous.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has announced that he is scheduling a committee vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination for Thursday, September 13

With Republicans in the majority it is all but certain that Kavanaugh will be approved by the Judiciary Committee and put in front of the full Senate for a final vote.  While many Democrats have voiced strong opposition to Kavanaugh they have little recourse when it comes to holding up his confirmation.  At most, they can delay the committee vote by a week, at which point Chairman Grassley would be able to force a vote. Barring any new revelations, the only likely obstacle to Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be opposition from pro-choice Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who have faced intense pressure over Kavanaugh’s presumed stance on abortion.  However, with a 51-49 majority in the Senate, both women would have to break with their party in order to hold up a nomination.  If Judge Kavanaugh is able to secure enough support, he would be able to begin his tenure on the Supreme Court before its new session begins on October

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