Chuck Grassley: Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation may take longer than we’d hoped for
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh may not be on the Supreme Court for the start of the justices’ new term in early October, a key senator signaled Wednesday, suggesting a slightly slower schedule than some Republicans had hoped for.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said the judge probably will get his confirmation hearing in September, rather than at the end of August.
“I wouldn’t say no at this point, because this is only August 1st. But it seems to me like early September would be the earliest. But I’d rather say at this point sometime in September,” Mr. Grassley told radio show host Hugh Hewitt.
The hearings will take up a week, and then the judge will have another week to answer follow-up questions in writing, Mr. Grassley said. The earliest a committee vote would happen is two weeks after that.
Then Judge Kavanaugh would go to the Senate floor for a full confirmation vote, which would take several more days to surmount an expected Democratic filibuster. Though it would take only a majority vote to end that filibuster, it would mean an additional delay.
“So if we could get this all done by October 1st when the Supreme Court starts its new fall session, would be ideal. But I think we can get it done soon after that if we don’t get it done by Oct. 1,” Mr. Grassley said.
Democrats are pushing for a slower process, saying potentially millions of documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the independent counsel’s office in the 1990s and later in the Bush White House must be released and reviewed.
Republicans say the request is a delaying tactic, and senators can evaluate Judge Kavanaugh based on the roughly 300 opinions he has written while at the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, said she has looked at those rulings and sees troubling signs that the judge would be too friendly to the White House.
“We have a judge who may very well say, ‘Mr. President, you can pretty much do what you want,’” Ms. Hirono said at a rally with nearly a dozen liberal advocacy groups Wednesday.
Several of Ms. Hirono’s colleagues also suggested Judge Kavanaugh would enable Mr. Trump, citing a law review article he wrote in 2009 arguing that a sitting president should not be subject to prosecution until he leaves office because it’s not in the public interest and interferes with national security.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Mr. Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh specifically to insulate him from any charges from special counsel Robert Mueller and the investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign.
“He is worried about Mueller. He is worried about the rule of law and he knows that Kavanaugh will roll over the rule of law and get the president off the legal hook,” Mr. Schumer said.
But Judge Kavanaugh’s defenders say Democrats are fabricating reasons to oppose him.
Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said Judge Kavanaugh’s 2009 law review article acknowledges a judge wouldn’t be the one to change the law regarding presidential probes, respecting a separation of powers.
“In that article, he is explicitly saying this is something Congress would have to do, not the courts,” Ms. Severino said.
While Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing is weeks away, his backers are ramping up pressure on Democrats to support him.
Concerned Women for America said it will run a “Women for Kavanaugh” bus tour through a number of states with Democratic senators.
“This is the moment conservative women and evangelical voters have been waiting for and a huge reason why they voted for President Trump,” said Penny Nance, president of the group.
The women plan to travel Aug. 8 through 21, visiting Iowa, West Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, South Dakota, North Dakota and Alabama.
West Virginia, Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota have Democratic senators up for re-election in states Mr. Trump won handily in 2016, so they face the tough choice of backing Judge Kavanaugh or sticking with their Democratic colleagues and try to obstruct the confirmation.