Kavanaugh strikes conciliatory tone at White House ceremonial oath

New Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh said tonight he has “no bitterness” over his contentious confirmation battle, as he took a ceremonial oath in front of scores of supporters who filled the East Room of the White House. “The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional,” Kavanaugh said. “That process is over. My focus now […]

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New Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh said tonight he has “no bitterness” over his contentious confirmation battle, as he took a ceremonial oath in front of scores of supporters who filled the East Room of the White House.

“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional,” Kavanaugh said. “That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be. I take this office with gratitude, and no bitterness.”

Retired Justice Anthony Kennedy administers oath to Justice Brett Kavanaugh (photo by Mark Walsh)

President Donald Trump struck a different note, referring obliquely to the extended confirmation fight brought about by the sexual misconduct allegations raised against the nominee.

“On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure,” Trump said.

All eight members of the court were in attendance, with Chief Justice John Roberts looking down slightly as Trump referenced the controversy, while Justice Clarence Thomas applauded in support of the president’s point.

“Those who step forward to serve our nation deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of personal and political destruction based on lies and deception,” the president added. “What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process. [In] our country, a man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

Turning to Kavanaugh, Trump said, “And with that, I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent.”

The East Room was jam-packed with political luminaries and Kavanaugh supporters. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky received a standing ovation when he entered the room, and another when he was lauded by Trump.

Outgoing White House Counsel Don McGahn, Solicitor General Noel Francisco and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were all present, with Rosenstein having accompanied Trump earlier in the day on Air Force One on a trip to Orlando, Fla., where the president addressed a police chiefs’ convention.

Many other supporters of Kavanaugh’s, including former law clerks and friends who stood by him during the confirmation process, filled the room. White House staff members were bringing in extra chairs just minutes before the ceremony began.

Kavanaugh had taken both of his required oaths—the “constitutional oath” administered to all federal officials under Article VI of the Constitution and the “judicial oath” required under the Judiciary Act of 1789—on Saturday evening, soon after winning confirmation in the Senate by a vote of 50-48.

But it has become the norm for White Houses of either party to hold their own celebratory event, sometimes to deliver one of the oaths for the first time, but more often with a ceremonial repetition of one of the two oaths. Last year, Justice Neil Gorsuch took his judicial oath for the first time in the White House Rose Garden, after having taken the constitutional oath in a private ceremony at the court the same morning.

Like Kavanaugh, Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito took ceremonial oaths at the White House after having received both of their oaths earlier. (President Barack Obama did not hold White House ceremonies when his two nominees—Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—were confirmed.)

On Monday, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom Kavanaugh succeeded, administered the ceremonial judicial oath to the new justice, just as he had delivered the same oath to Kavanaugh on Saturday. Both Trump and Kavanaugh lauded Kennedy for his 30 years of service on the court.

Kavanaugh thanked his supporters and sought to further distance himself from the partisan tone of his Senate testimony last week.

“On the Supreme Court, I will seek to be a force for stability and unity,” Kavanaugh said. “I was not appointed to serve one party or one interest, but to serve one nation. America’s Constitution and laws protect every person, of every belief, and every background. Every litigant in the Supreme Court can be assured that I will listen to their arguments with respect and an open mind. Every American can be assured that I will be an independent and impartial justice, devoted to equal justice under law.”

Kavanaugh indicated that his daughters, Margaret and Liza, would be missing school on Tuesday to be present when their father takes the bench for the first time.

“I thank their teachers for giving them the day off tomorrow so that they can come hear two cases being argued at the Supreme Court,” Kavanaugh said.

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Kavanaugh confirmed as 114th justice (Updated)

Kavanaugh confirmed as 114th justice (Updated)[UPDATE: The Supreme Court announced that Kavanaugh will be sworn in today by Chief Justice John Roberts and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom Kavanaugh clerked. The ceremony will take place at the court and will allow Kavanaugh to “begin to participate in the work of the Court immediately,” a press release stated. A formal […]

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Kavanaugh confirmed as 114th justice (Updated)

[UPDATE: The Supreme Court announced that Kavanaugh will be sworn in today by Chief Justice John Roberts and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom Kavanaugh clerked. The ceremony will take place at the court and will allow Kavanaugh to “begin to participate in the work of the Court immediately,” a press release stated. A formal investiture ceremony is expected to follow later.]

Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed this afternoon as the 114th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh replaces Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in late July after 30 years on the court, spending many of those years as a pivotal vote on hot-button issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and affirmative action. Kavanaugh’s ascension means that the Supreme Court is likely to shift to the right, perhaps significantly, for years if not decades to come.

Kavanaugh had long been mentioned as a potential Supreme Court pick, and when President Donald Trump nominated him on July 9 to succeed Kennedy, his path to the court looked like it would be a smooth one, with support not only from conservative lawyers and legal scholars, but also from Washington insiders of all ideological stripes. In early September, Kavanaugh sailed through four days of confirmation hearings relatively unscathed: Although Democratic senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed skepticism about Kavanaugh’s views on issues ranging from abortion to presidential power and gun rights, it appeared that he would have near-unanimous support from Senate Republicans and could pick up a few votes from red-state Democrats, particularly those facing tough reelection battles.

But Kavanaugh’s journey to the Supreme Court became a much rockier one in mid-September, when a California psychologist named Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s, when Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh were students at private schools in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Blasey Ford contended that Kavanaugh and a friend, Mark Judge, pushed her into an upstairs bedroom at a party; Kavanaugh, Blasey Ford alleged, then jumped on top of her and, she believed, was attempting to rape her.

After Blasey Ford’s story became public, other accusations against Kavanaugh followed, including a claim by Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale College, that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her at a party in a dorm room there.

Kavanaugh denied the accusations against him, but the Senate Judiciary Committee held a new hearing on September 27. A nervous but composed Blasey Ford testified first, telling senators that she was “absolutely” certain that it was Kavanaugh who had attacked her in the 1980s. Kavanaugh followed her with testimony that was often emotional or angry, as he forcefully declared his innocence and assailed the accusations against him as the product of an orchestrated effort by the left to torpedo his nomination. Republican senators echoed that idea, while Democratic senators repeatedly called for an FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh.

On September 28, the Senate Judiciary Committee met to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Several Democrats on the committee, including Senators Corey Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, walked out of the meeting to protest the failure to conduct a new FBI investigation. Later in the day, there was even more drama, as Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona who is not running for reelection, announced that he would vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor – but on the condition that the FBI would open a one-week investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh.

Trump ordered the investigation that night, calling for “a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file” that would be “limited in scope and completed in less than one week.” Democrats were sharply critical of the investigation and the report that it produced, noting that the FBI had not interviewed either Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh. But Senate Republicans were satisfied with the investigation, and on Friday morning senators voted on cloture – that is, whether to limit debate on the nomination and require a final vote within 30 hours.

The cloture vote went down to the wire, with Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, voting against Kavanaugh. But two other key senators, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted for cloture, with Collins indicating that she would announce her final decision on how to vote by 3 pm on Friday. In a speech on the Senate floor that lasted almost 45 minutes, Collins defended Kavanaugh and his record and declared that she would support him. Manchin announced a short while later that he would also vote for Kavanaugh, essentially guaranteeing that Kavanaugh would be confirmed.

But even if there was little suspense at Saturday’s final vote, there was still plenty of theater, both inside and outside the Capitol. Protesters mobbed the east steps of the Capitol before police could clear them, and dozens of demonstrators were arrested. Other protesters gathered across the street from the Capitol, at the Supreme Court. Inside, on the floor of the Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding, senators sat down at their ceremonial desks for a formal vote, which began at approximately 3:45 pm.

Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, urged Americans who were dissatisfied with the confirmation to go to the polls in November and “vote.” He was followed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who described a vote on a Supreme Court nomination as “one of the most consequential decisions a senator will ever make.” McConnell extolled Kavanaugh as a “superstar, a serious scholar” who is “legendary for his preparation and possesses the qualifications, the temperament and judicial philosophy” to be a brilliant justice. Indeed, McConnell argued, Kavanaugh is “among the best the country has to offer” and “unquestionably deserves confirmation, and the country deserves such a Supreme Court justice.” “A vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” McConnell continued, is a vote about the Senate itself, where “the facts matter” and the “politics of personal destruction do not win the day.”

As Pence attempted to begin the vote, the proceedings were periodically interrupted by protesters in the gallery, who often shouted loudly before they were removed from the room. The names of the senators were called one by one, with each senator standing to cast his or her vote. The final vote was 50 to 48: Although Murkowski had already expressed her opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, she withdrew her “no” vote and was recorded as simply being “present” as a courtesy to Senator Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, who was out of town to attend his daughter’s wedding. (Even with Murkowski’s “no” vote, Daines’ absence would not have changed the outcome of the vote, but her switch to “present” meant that Kavanaugh was confirmed with the same margin as if Daines had been able to vote “yes,” as he intended.)

Kavanaugh is likely to be sworn in as the court’s newest associate justice soon, and he could be on the bench as soon as Tuesday, when the justices return to hear oral arguments again. Right now the court’s docket is packed with cases that present interesting legal issues but are not the kind of high-profile disputes that we have seen in recent years. That could change quickly, however: During the next few months, the justices could decide whether to take up appeals involving hot-button issues like crosses on public land, partisan gerrymandering, and discrimination against LGBTQ employees. And even if they don’t take up issues like abortion, affirmative action, same-sex marriage and the death penalty – in which Kennedy played a key role – this term, such cases are looming on the horizon and could demonstrate whether, as many expect and Republicans hope, Kavanaugh will to move the court to the right.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

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Kavanaugh nomination moves toward final vote, with confirmation seemingly guaranteed

Kavanaugh nomination moves toward final vote, with confirmation seemingly guaranteedThe nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy moved toward the final vote today, after a divided Senate voted in favor of cloture – a technical term for a procedure that limits debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination by creating a 30-hour window within which the Senate […]

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Kavanaugh nomination moves toward final vote, with confirmation seemingly guaranteed

The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy moved toward the final vote today, after a divided Senate voted in favor of cloture – a technical term for a procedure that limits debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination by creating a 30-hour window within which the Senate will hold a final vote on the nomination. The final vote will likely occur sometime tomorrow afternoon, but Kavanaugh appears to have locked up the votes needed for confirmation: This afternoon, Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, announced that she would support Kavanaugh, as did Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.

Republicans needed 51 votes to move ahead with tomorrow’s vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, and that is exactly what they got. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, voted against cloture this morning, while Collins and Manchin (along with Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Utah) voted for it. Collins had announced before this morning’s vote that she would vote in favor of cloture but would not announce her decision on the final vote until this afternoon, while Manchin – who is up for re-election in a state that President Donald Trump won by over 40 percentage points in 2016 – did not comment on his cloture vote.

After the cloture vote, Murkowski described her decision to oppose Kavanaugh as the “most difficult” one that she’d ever had to make. “It just may be, in my view, he’s not the right man for the court at this time.”

Flake, who is retiring from the Senate this year, had announced earlier today that he planned to support Kavanaugh “unless something big changes,” but he added that he did not expect such a change.

Collins came to the floor shortly after 3 p.m. today. She was sharply critical of what she described as the “dysfunctional” confirmation process and efforts by liberal interest groups to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, often funded by “dark money.” “One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the confirmation process has finally hit rock bottom,” she seemed to plead. She has interpreted the Constitution, she explained, as giving the president broad discretion to nominate Supreme Court justices. She has “never considered” the president’s identity or party when evaluating Supreme Court nominees, she noted, and has supported nominees advanced by both Republican and Democratic presidents. She stressed that she had reviewed Kavanaugh’s record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, listened to his confirmation testimony and spoken with him personally at length.

Addressing President Donald Trump’s promise to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, Collins noted that overturning Roe has been in the Republican Party’s platform for years, but Republican presidents have appointed justices like Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter – who voted in 1992 to reaffirm Roe’s core holding. She went on to state that Kavanaugh had not made any promises about whether he would vote to overturn Roe.

Collins stressed that she had listened “carefully” to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, which Collins believed was “sincere, painful and compelling.” Collins added that she believed Ford had been assaulted and was still suffering from the effects of that assault. But witnesses could not corroborate any of the events of the party where Ford said the assault occurred, Collins continued, and both Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, whom Ford placed in the room during the assault, “forcefully denied” the allegations. Ford’s claims, Collins concluded, did not meet a standard of “more likely than not,” and Collins therefore did not regard them as disqualifying.

After over 45 minutes on the Senate floor, Collins ended by describing Kavanaugh as an “exemplary” public servant, teacher, judge, father and husband. She expressed hope that Kavanaugh would work to reduce divisions on the Supreme Court and then confirmed what had become clear by that point: She will vote tomorrow to confirm Kavanaugh.

Collins’ announcement gave Manchin some breathing room: Even if he had voted for Kavanaugh, creating a tie, Vice President Mike Pence could have broken that tie in Kavanaugh’s favor. But shortly after Collins finished on the floor, Manchin announced that he too would support Kavanaugh, rendering it all but certain that Kavanaugh will be confirmed sometime tomorrow by a vote of 51 to 49.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

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OT2018 #1: “Rearranging Deck Chairs”

OT2018 #1: “Rearranging Deck Chairs”The first Monday of the October 2018 term is upon us, which means it’s time for the kick-off of our third season. Live from Washington University in St. Louis, we bring you previews of the week’s arguments. The cases involve a range of issues, from the Federal Arbitration Act to the death penalty, and we know that — […]

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OT2018 #1: “Rearranging Deck Chairs”

The first Monday of the October 2018 term is upon us, which means it’s time for the kick-off of our third season. Live from Washington University in St. Louis, we bring you previews of the week’s arguments. The cases involve a range of issues, from the Federal Arbitration Act to the death penalty, and we know that — for now — they’ll be decided by an eight-member court. Speaking of, that hearing was … something. We’ll share our reactions as best we can, with the hopes that we’ll do a more in-depth analysis of the latest on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation news soon.

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Kavanaugh nomination voted out of committee, but FBI investigation to follow (UPDATED)

Kavanaugh nomination voted out of committee, but FBI investigation to follow (UPDATED)UPDATE: NBC News has reported that President Donald Trump has asked the FBI to conduct the supplemental background investigation requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Trump indicated that the investigation should be “limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”  Less than 18 hours after a hearing on sexual-assault allegations that alternated between […]

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Kavanaugh nomination voted out of committee, but FBI investigation to follow (UPDATED)

UPDATE: NBC News has reported that President Donald Trump has asked the FBI to conduct the supplemental background investigation requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Trump indicated that the investigation should be “limited in scope and completed in less than one week.” 

Less than 18 hours after a hearing on sexual-assault allegations that alternated between emotional and explosive, a deeply divided Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court. At first, it appeared that there would be relatively little suspense in the vote, because Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced shortly before the hearing began that he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh. But there was still plenty of drama and emotion in today’s meeting. From the outset, senators on both sides used it as a forum to make what amounted to closing arguments for and against Kavanaugh’s nomination. And in the end, the senators’ votes mirrored their party affiliations, with all 11 Republicans on the committee voting for Kavanaugh and all 10 Democrats voting against him. But the vote was delayed while Flake huddled with his Democratic colleagues, most notably Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware. And when Flake – who had not previously spoken today – rejoined his colleagues, he endorsed a delay to allow an FBI investigation “limited in time and scope into the current accusations that are there.”

Today’s sometimes dramatic events followed an intense day of testimony yesterday on Capitol Hill by both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when both were in high school. Blasey Ford appeared fragile but composed, telling senators that she was absolutely certain that Kavanaugh was her assailant, while Kavanaugh insisted forcefully that he was completely innocent.

With the only witnesses at yesterday’s hearing offering two irreconcilable accounts, there was relatively little discussion of the alleged assault itself. Instead, Democrats on the committee repeatedly called for an FBI investigation into Blasey Ford’s allegations, while Republicans and Kavanaugh himself decried the accusations as part of an orchestrated partisan effort to derail his nomination – including, as Kavanaugh suggested angrily, as “revenge” for his role as a deputy to Ken Starr in Starr’s investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton during the 1990s.

Today’s committee meeting was contentious, with statements by senators on both sides reflecting the vast chasm that has developed between Republicans and most Democrats on the Kavanaugh nomination. The meeting began with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, asking the committee to force Mark Judge, who Ford has said was in the room when Kavanaugh attacked her, to testify. Judge, Blumenthal argued, had never been interviewed by the FBI nor questioned by members of the committee. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chair of the committee, countered that Judge had submitted a new letter, again denying any knowledge of the events described by Blasey Ford, and he called for a vote on Blumenthal’s motion even as Blumenthal tried to protest. The motion failed, and several Democratic senators walked out to speak to reporters in what looked like an impromptu demonstration. One of those senators, Kamala Harris, D-Calif., called the hearing a “sham.”

The Republican senators who spoke today were sharply critical of what they portrayed as a partisan effort to defeat Kavanaugh’s nomination. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah declared that it was time to “end the circus” and “show some dignity around here,” and he described himself as “tired of all the games and gamesmanship” surrounding nomination. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas suggested that there had been a “calculated effort to manipulate this process in a way that is blatantly unfair” to both Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh; Democrats, he continued, had displayed “cruelty, recklessness, indecency for the people we should be treating with respect and dignity.” And Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina pronounced that we are “in the twilight zone.” “This has never been about the truth,” Graham averred. “This is about delay and destruction. If we reward this, it is the end of good people wanting to be judges.”

Senate Democrats renewed their calls for an FBI investigation into the allegations by Blasey Ford and other accusers. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who seemed relatively calm yesterday, spoke passionately, with her voice sometimes wavering. “I don’t want to hear about ‘respecting’ Dr. Ford,” Klobuchar told her colleagues, when they aren’t respecting her by giving her an FBI investigation. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island focused on an entry from Kavanaugh’s 1982 calendar that, Whitehouse posited, could have been the party at which Blasey Ford alleges the assault occurred. The FBI could shed more light on this, Whitehouse argued. But in any event, Whitehouse warned, the facts will come out over time.” “The sand is running through Kavanaugh’s hourglass,” he concluded.

As the meeting seemed to be drawing to a close, Blumenthal again made what he described as a “last appeal” for delay, seemingly to no avail. Grassley had, at the outset of the meeting, declared that the committee would vote at 1:30 p.m., but that time came and went without the committee reconvening.

Shortly before 2 p.m., Flake – who had been confronted in the elevator by two women who described themselves as survivors of sexual assault – returned to the dais, and Grassley called on him to speak. Flake explained that he had spoken with his Democratic colleagues and had concluded that it would be “proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week” so that the FBI can conduct an investigation “limited in time and scope into the current accusations that are there,” although it is not entirely clear whether Flake was referring only to the allegations that have already been leveled by Blasey Ford or instead also meant to include the other allegations that have been made in the past week.  “We ought to do what we can to do all due diligence with a nomination this important,” Flake reasoned. Therefore, Flake said, he would vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor with the understanding that the full Senate vote would be delayed for an FBI investigation. The senators on the committee then voted on the nomination, dividing 11 to 10 along party lines.

Flake’s push for an FBI investigation would not, standing alone, guarantee either that the vote will be delayed or that an FBI investigation will follow, both because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has the power to determine when and whether the nomination moves to the floor and because a call for an FBI investigation would need to come from the White House, rather than the Senate. But Flake’s request seemed to be gaining momentum, as Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who is regarded as a key vote in the confirmation process, this afternoon indicated that she agrees with Flake’s call for an investigation, saying that she thinks “it is important that we do our due diligence.” And shortly before 4 p.m. today, the Senate Judiciary Committee released a statement announcing that it “will request that the administration instruct the FBI to conduct a supplemental FBI background investigation with respect to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.” That investigation, the committee wrote, “would be limited to current credible allegations against the nominee and must be completed no later than one week from today.” The committee’s announcement puts the ball squarely in the White House’s court, but the Trump’s administration’s options may be limited: Without an investigation, the administration might not have the votes to confirm Kavanaugh.

This post was first published at Howe on the Court.

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Live blog of confirmation hearing

Live blog of confirmation hearingWe are live-blogging as the Senate Judiciary Committee hears testimony from Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Join us. 

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Live blog of confirmation hearing

We are live-blogging as the Senate Judiciary Committee hears testimony from Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Join us.

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Kavanaugh responds to post-hearing questions

Kavanaugh responds to post-hearing questionsLast week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy. After the hearing ended, senators submitted written questions – over 1,200 in all – to Kavanaugh, who responded last night. The senators’ questions address everything from Kavanaugh’s reaction when he was approached at the […]

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Kavanaugh responds to post-hearing questions

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy. After the hearing ended, senators submitted written questions – over 1,200 in all – to Kavanaugh, who responded last night. The senators’ questions address everything from Kavanaugh’s reaction when he was approached at the hearing by the father of a school-shooting victim to Kavanaugh’s personal finances; the questions and Kavanaugh’s responses comprise over 250 pages.

As he had at the hearing, Kavanaugh declined to respond to a number of questions on the ground that the issue “could well come before me in future litigation”; Kavanaugh also repeatedly referred the senators to his previous answers at the hearing regarding, for example, whether he had known in 2002 that a Republican Senate staffer had accessed the email accounts of Democratic Judiciary Committee staffers without their knowledge. Other responses contained more details, however, as Kavanaugh:

  • Stated that, when he used the term “abortion-inducing drugs” at his hearing to discuss his opinion in a challenge by religious nonprofits to the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate, he was “accurately describing the plaintiffs’ position”; he “was not expressing an opinion on whether particular drugs induce abortion.”
  • Explained that, when he was approached by Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this year, he “did not recognize” Guttenberg and “assumed he was a protestor.” “In a split second,” Kavanaugh continued, “my security detail intervened and ushered me out of the hearing room.” “If I had known who he was,” Kavanaugh stressed, “I would have shaken his hand, talked to him, and expressed my sympathy. And I would have listened to him.”
  • Announced that if confirmed he would step down from the board of the Washington Jesuit Academy, a Catholic school for boys from lower-income families. Kavanaugh declined to say whether, because the school accepts vouchers from the D.C. government to pay for tuition, he would recuse from any cases involving school vouchers; instead, he wrote that he would “consider that question as appropriate.”
  • Addressed questions about his finances, including substantial credit-card debt – later paid off – that he had previously described as arising from (among other things) his purchase of season tickets for Washington’s professional baseball team. Kavanaugh noted that he and his wife currently have “no debts other than our home mortgage,” and he provided a list of examples of the couple’s spending on home maintenance. “We have not received financial gifts other than from our family which are excluded from disclosure in judicial financial disclosure reports,” Kavanaugh wrote. “Nor,” he added, “have we received other kinds of gifts from anyone outside of our family, apart from ordinary non-reportable gifts related to, for example, birthdays, Christmas, or personal hospitality.” Kavanaugh also stressed that he had “not had gambling debts or participated in ‘fantasy’ leagues.”

When the Senate Judiciary Committee met this morning, committee chairman Charles Grassley announced that the committee would vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination next Thursday, September 20. But even with a date set for a committee vote, the battle over the documents relating to Kavanaugh’s service in the White House is likely to continue.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

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Good Behaviour #10: “Bad Bens”

Good Behaviour #10: “Bad Bens”In our (hopefully) final episode of Good Behaviour (for a while), Ian Samuel and Leah Litman discuss their favorite and least favorite moments of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

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Good Behaviour #10: “Bad Bens”

In our (hopefully) final episode of Good Behaviour (for a while), Ian Samuel and Leah Litman discuss their favorite and least favorite moments of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

The post Good Behaviour #10: “Bad Bens” appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

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Live blog of day four of confirmation hearing (Update: Completed)

Live blog of day four of confirmation hearing (Update: Completed)We live-blogged the fourth day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Witnesses provided testimony.

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Live blog of day four of confirmation hearing (Update: Completed)

We live-blogged the fourth day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Witnesses provided testimony.

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Live blog of confirmation hearing (Day Three)

Live blog of confirmation hearing (Day Three)We are live-blogging the third day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators are going through their second round of questioning for the nominee.

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Live blog of confirmation hearing (Day Three)

We are live-blogging the third day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senators are going through their second round of questioning for the nominee.

The post Live blog of confirmation hearing (Day Three) appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

from http://www.scotusblog.com