Cornyn, Cruz should step up in hearings
Texas has not one but two members on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which means that John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are in a special position right now. They can help make sure that the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh are valuable to the American people he could serve on the Supreme Court for several decades.
We know that’s not how it’s supposed to go at these hearings, and frankly how it probably will go.
But that frustrating history doesn’t mean that voters have to passively accept another choreographed show, or that senators from the president’s party have to play along. They can and should do their constitutional duty, which is to ensure that the nominee is fully qualified for the very important position.
The way to do that is simple: Ask pertinent questions, and get real answers.
Texans, and people all over America, want to know Kavanaugh’s views on court precedents like Roe vs. Wade, and how he feels about vital issues like campaign-financing disclosure and gun rights. That applies to any judge, especially one nominated for the highest court in the land.
The standard dodge to these questions is to reply lamely that the nominee can’t comment on a case that could come before the court, but that should no longer be acceptable. No one is asking a judge to indicate in advance how he or she might rule on a case without seeing all the evidence. What senators and voters deserve is answers that are as specific as possible and give a good indication of the judge’s legal philosophy.
And those questions shouldn’t just come from senators in the “other” party. Senators on both sides of the aisle should seek this information, both for themselves and the people they represent.
Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, and barring some surprise, Kavanaugh is expected to be confirmed. He’s been a judge for a long time and left what should be an extensive paper trail for study, though some of his documents from the George W. Bush presidency were withheld under the claim of executive privilege.
That’s an issue that legal scholars have long debated, but when it comes to hearings this important, the American people deserve as much information as possible. The goal should be finding reasons to release documents, not keep them hidden. And it should go without saying, but night-before “documents dumps” of thousands of pages violate the spirit of this process. A familiar saying applies again: If you have nothing to hide, don’t act as if you do.
Cruz is up for re-election in this cycle. On the campaign trail, he should be able to tell Texans that he did his duty at these important hearings and helped seek actual information instead of regurgitating talking points. If he did, he is giving voters another reason to consider re-electing him. If not, the reverse holds true as well.