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Supreme Court nominee meets his top GOP critic, Rand Paul

July 24, 2018

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, left, walks into the office of Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., for a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was back on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, meeting with several senators, including his chief GOP critic, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Kavanaugh, the appellate court judge tapped by President Donald Trump to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, had a roster-full of meetings with Republican senators as he shores up votes before a confirmation hearing.

Paul is the one Republican in the narrowly divided Senate who has outwardly wavered in possible support. The libertarian-leaning senator says he’s keeping an “open mind,” but few expect he would actually oppose Trump’s choice.

The senator is particularly concerned about Kavanaugh’s views on the Fourth Amendment, which protects against undue search and seizure. Paul let Trump know he preferred other potential nominees he viewed as more conservative. But he has since said he’s undecided.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was less worried about Paul on Tuesday than about Democrats, who are demanding reams of documents from Kavanaugh’s time as a judge and political official.

Republicans are eager to have Kavanaugh confirmed before the midterm elections as an accomplishment they can bring home to voters, and McConnell warned Democrats not to try to delay it.

“We’re going to finish this nomination this fall,” McConnell said. “So let there be no misunderstanding that there would be any kind of delay tactic that would take us past the first Tuesday in November.”

Democrats want background on Kavanaugh’s 12 years as an appellate judge as well as his earlier jobs on Ken Starr’s team investigating Bill Clinton; the 2000 presidential election recount; and as staff secretary in the George W. Bush administration. The documents could top 1 million pages.

Some Democrats have declined to meet with Kavanaugh while they wait on documents.

But several Democratic senators from Trump-won states who are up for re-election in November are under pressure to back the nominee in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority and every vote matters.

One key Democrat, Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, said Tuesday that he was set to meet with the judge in August. Others have said they, too, will meet with him.

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