Confirmation Hearings For Brett Kavanaugh Begin With Protests And Charge Of ‘Mob Rule’
On Tuesday, the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh began with protests, as Democratic senators pointed out a lack of documents about Kavanaugh’s record and demanded a delay, while dozens of protesters were dragged out.
Sen. John Cornyn (R–Texas), the second highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, said the hearing for President Donald Trump‘s nominee had degenerated into “mob rule” within the first hour. Democrats said they were just seeking respect and accused Republicans of trying to push Kavanaugh through without review.
After protesters in the audience were removed, Kavanaugh said, “I am honored to be here today” and introduced his family. Protesters continued to interrupt as committee members delivered their opening statements. Sen. Orrin Hatch asked for a “loudmouth” protester to be removed while he spoke and said the committee shouldn’t have to “put up with this kind of nonsense.”
Democrats have charged that documents on Kavanaugh’s career have been withheld without justification, particularly those from his time as George W. Bush’s staff secretary. Senators have reviewed nearly 200,000 pages that cannot be disclosed to the public, and the Trump administration is withholding another 100,000 pages from Congress altogether, claiming those documents would be covered by presidential privilege.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.), the panel’s senior Democrat, said Republicans have “cast aside” the traditional vetting process.
“We were not able to get a lot of documents we felt we were entitled to,” Feinstein added. “We’re laboring under this disadvantage.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.), said the Senate is not being the “conscience of the nation” and is not living up to the responsibility to vet Supreme Court nominees by holding a hearing before senators have seen 100 percent of documents related to Kavanaugh’s past work. He called the hearing “a sham.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), pushed back against the Democrats, saying that it is appropriate to withhold some of the documents from Kavanaugh’s time at the White House because he was a senior lawyer whose advice to the president on issues should remain confidential.
“This committee has more materials for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination than we have had on any Supreme Court nominee in history. Senators have had more than enough time and materials to adequately assess Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications and so that’s why I proceed,” Grassley said.
Republicans are determined to push Kavanaugh to the full Senate later this month, but Democrats want to press him on his views on abortion, health care and guns among other issues issues.