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Ohio Sen. Rob Portman introduces Brett Kavanaugh at Supreme Court confirmation hearing

September 4, 2018

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman introduces Brett Kavanaugh at Supreme Court confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Protesters hollered and waved signs. Democrats urged a delay. But Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate ignored theatrics Tuesday as they kicked off several days of hearings on whether Brett Kavanaugh should become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman - who worked at the White House with Kavanaugh during George W. Bush’s presidency - joined former Secretary of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and appeals lawyer Lisa Blatt in introducing Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“During the process of this hearing, there will be spirited discussion about Brett’s legal philosophy and his experience and background as a lawyer and judge,” Portman told the committee. “And there should be: this is about a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. In my view, there is not a better-qualified person to be on that court.”

Portman described Kavanaugh as a “well respected judge and well respected professor” at Harvard, Yale and Georgetown law schools, and noted the Supreme Court has adopted Kavanaugh’s judicial reasoning a “remarkable” 13 times, “a record that few, if any, other appellate judges can match.

Portman said those who know Kavanaugh universally praise his work ethic, intelligence and integrity. He noted that George W. Bush called him “a class act,” and President Bill Clinton’s former lawyer, Bob Bennett, called Kavanaugh “a strong advocate of decency and civility.”

Great meeting today w/ Judge #Kavanaugh. He is exceptionally well-qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, and I urge all of my #Senate colleagues to join me in supporting his nomination. #SCOTUS pic.twitter.com/Rta0NOpOYC— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) July 11, 2018

He also noted that Kavanaugh coached his daughter’s sixth-grade basketball team to a citywide championship last year, and volunteers serving meals to the homeless.

“I know these are partisan times here in Washington—but this is an extraordinary nominee in every respect, who deserves broad support,” said Portman. “I would hope, as was the case with Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, nominated by President Obama, that this committee will report his nomination favorably and that the full Senate will confirm him with a strong bipartisan vote.”

Democrats urged that the hearing be postponed because they hadn’t been able to review 42,000 pages of documents on Kavanaugh that they received Monday. They also protested that many documents from Kavanaugh’s White House days were withheld because of “executive privilege,” and thousands of the documents they did receive were not made available to the public.

Noting that the Justice he’d replace, Anthony Kennedy, was a swing vote in key cases, Democrats expressed concern Kavanaugh will back corporate interests, oppose gun restrictions and overturn Supreme Court precedents that allow abortion. They also suggested that President Donald Trump - who is being investigated by a special prosecutor - picked Kennedy because he believes presidents shouldn’t be subjected to civil or criminal prosecutions when they’re in office.

“You are being nominated for a pivotal seat,” the committee’s top Democrat, California’s Dianne Feinstein, told Kavanaugh. “It would likely be the deciding vote on fundamental issues.”

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio - who is not on the Judiciary Committee - opposes Kavanaugh’s nomination. Brown released a statement last month that said Kavanaugh would “side with special interests over working people and threaten the rights of Ohioans.”

“Special interests already have armies of lobbyists and lawyers on their side,” said Brown’s statement. “Working people need Justices who will put their rights first, not Justices who will side with insurance companies over cancer survivors, financial scammers over customers, or massive corporations over American workers.”

After thoroughly reviewing his record, meeting with him face-to-face, and listening to Ohioans, I am convinced Judge Kavanaugh would side with special interests over working people and threaten the rights of Ohioans. -SBFULL STATEMENT → https://t.co/7GapCduMiN pic.twitter.com/yAFnNqeXPH— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) August 24, 2018

Republican defenders of Kavanaugh noted that he’s published more than 300 opinions in his current job as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa said that more documents on Kavanaugh have been released than on any prior Supreme Court nominee. He pledged to continue the nomination hearings through the weekend, if needed.

“This has been the most thorough Supreme Court process I have participated in,” said committee member Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican. “They have to try to turn the volume up to 11 and paint you as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.”

Portman has repeatedly delivered Senate floor speeches and appeared on television to plug Kavanaugh’s nomination. They worked together at the White House during George W. Bush’s presidency, when Portman was U.S. Trade Representative and headed the Office of Management and Budget. During that time, Kavanaugh had a staff secretary job that Portman described as “being the traffic cop” for the Oval Office.

“I think he’s got exactly the right qualifications, extensive experience and a judicial philosophy that I think most Americans would agree with and would want in a judge,” Portman said in an Aug. 22 floor speech. “But again, as important as that is to me, he’s also a good person. He’s compassionate. He’s humble. He’s someone who has a big heart and maybe most importantly, he has the humility to be able to listen, to hear people out. As we said earlier, there is no more important quality in a Supreme Court justice given incredibly important issues that they have before them.”

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