Democrat Joe Manchin to meet with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh will finally get his first sit-down with a Democratic senator next week, breaking the wall of resistance Democrats have mounted as they seek to derail President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia will meet with Judge Kavanaugh on Monday, an administration official confirmed.
Republicans praised the senator for the decision, which they said defies Democratic leaders who’d hoped to present a united front in refusing to meet with the nominee, looking to use the promise of meetings as leverage to demand more documents and time to consider the nomination.
“We hope there will be more Democrats who may have an open mind on this nominee to actually sit down and meet him,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.
Mr. McConnell suggested Democrats’ strategy is less about vetting Judge Kavanaugh and more about trying to drag out the confirmation process as long as possible, making it an issue in November’s elections and perhaps into 2019.
Mr. McConnell said he won’t allow that to happen.
“We’re going to finish this nomination this fall, and so let there be no misunderstanding that there would be any kind of delaying tactic that would take us past the first Tuesday in November,” he told reporters.
Judge Kavanaugh was nominated July 9, or more than two weeks ago, to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
He’s met with 26 GOP lawmakers so far, but no Democrats.
By comparison, Mr. Trump’s first Supreme Court pick Justice Neil M. Gorsuch met with at least two Democratic senators within the first week following his nomination.
Even for Judge Merrick Garland, who was President Obama’s failed pick for the seat Justice Gorsuch eventually won, Republicans had begun to meet with him within two weeks of his nomination in 2016.
Judge Garland’s nomination was scuttled by Republicans who said the pick should be made by the winner of the 2016 election.
Senate Democrats, still sour over that treatment, retaliated with near-unanimous opposition to Justice Gorsuch, and are nearly universally skeptical of Judge Kavanaugh.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, of New York, has instructed his side of the aisle to refuse to meet with Judge Kavanaugh until all of the nominee’s paperwork is turned over to the Judiciary Committee ahead of his confirmation hearing.
That could amount to 1 million documents, covering his time working in President George W. Bush’s White House and helping draft Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s report following the investigation into President Clinton.
“There will always be requests for more and more and more without regard to any relevance to the nominee whatsoever. They even want documents that came across his desk whether or not he actually had anything to do with creating those documents,” Mr. Cornyn said.
Republicans argue Judge Kavanaugh’s roughly 300 opinions he drafted while sitting on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., since 2006 should be the focus for vetting his judicial record ahead of the confirmation hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
Mr. Schumer, though, said Republicans made similar document demands for Justice Elena Kagan, who was confirmed to the high court in 2010.
“We on this side have had enough of the other side’s hypocrisy on judges,” Mr. Schumer said.
“Senate Republicans are making hollow arguments and petty attempts at advancing Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with as little scrutiny as they can manage,” he added.
Mr. Manchin, who is up for re-election in a state Mr. Trump won by more than 40 points in 2016, voted for the president’s first Supreme Court pick and is open to hearing from his second, unlike a majority of his Democratic colleagues. At least 20 Democrats have already come out against Judge Kavanaugh.
Like Mr. Manchin, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota Democrat, and Sen. Joe Donnelly, Indiana Democrat, also backed Justice Gorsuch during Mr. Trump’s first high court vacancy.
They’re also up for re-election in Trump-won states this November, but it’s unclear where they stand on the president’s second nominee and whether they’ll meet with Judge Kavanaugh ahead of his confirmation vote.
Neither senators’ office returned a request for comment from The Washington Times.