07.09.18

BREAKING: Statement Of Senator Leahy On The Nomination Of Judge Kavanaugh To The Supreme Court Of The United States

I have served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the nomination hearings of every sitting member of the Supreme Court.  I have never seen so much at stake with a single seat as I do today.  A woman’s right to make her own health decisions, marriage equality, efforts to curb global warming emissions, core post-9/11 civil liberties — all were upheld because of Justice Kennedy’s vote.  All that, and much more, is at risk today. 

The Constitution doesn’t direct the President to nominate justices to the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.  That is the role specified by the Constitution for the United States Senate.  Yet the President has considered only individuals pre-approved by these far-right special interest groups — groups that seek to elevate the rights of corporations and the powerful over those of hardworking Americans, including by overturning the Affordable Care Act’s protections for those with preexisting conditions.  Farming out this nomination to extreme ideologues only further divides our nation while threatening real harm to the Court’s independence.

Based on an initial review of Judge Kavanaugh’s record, we are right to be concerned.  President Trump views the independent judiciary as a political branch.  He sees the courts as an extension of his power, not a check against it.  Yet Judge Kavanaugh’s record reveals an endorsement of this expansive view of presidential power — views that ultimately may place the president above the law.  And as a judge he has consistently attempted to dismantle environmental protections and to limit women’s rights.  I also still have questions about how truthful he was during his 2006 confirmation hearing regarding his involvement in Bush-era detention policies.

The heavy burden is now on Judge Kavanaugh to use his nomination hearing to be forthright with the American people.  He must not evade fundamental questions that judicial nominees have answered for decades until recently.  He needs to explain why we should believe he would be a justice for all Americans, independent of the President and the ideologically driven interest groups that selected him.

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