- Hearing starts Tuesday for Trump’s second Supreme Court choice
- Minority party lacks leverage to stop pick to replace Kennedy
Democrats will have plenty of material to draw upon when they question U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his Senate confirmation hearings. What they won’t have is leverage.
Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick to succeed the now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, is a good bet to shift the court to the right, perhaps sharply so. As a U.S. appeals court judge in Washington since 2006, Kavanaugh struck down federal regulations, backed gun freedoms and questioned abortion rights.
But with the hearings starting Tuesday, Democrats haven’t been able to undercut Kavanaugh’s status as a heavy favorite to win confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate. Both sides have pored through tens of thousands of pages of judicial opinions, speeches and documents, though Democrats say that includes just a small fraction of the material from Kavanaugh’s five years as a top White House official.
“He is extreme even by the right-wing, far-right ideological standards of this administration,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told reporters. “There will be sparks at this hearing.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in an interview he is “feeling good” about confirmation prospects. Republicans, who will reclaim their 51-4Democrats9 Senate majority after Arizona’s governor names a replacement for the late Senator John McCain, are aiming to get Kavanaugh seated by the time the court formally opens its term on Oct. 1. Having ended the use of filibusters for high court nominees in 2017, they could confirm Kavanaugh without any Democratic votes.
The hearings start with opening statements Tuesday, followed by questioning of the nominee Wednesday and Thursday. The leading outside group supporting Kavanaugh, the Judicial Crisis Network, has already spent more than $4 million on television ads urging his confirmation.