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Kavanaugh Column, News

Will Judge Kavanaugh Get a Vote by September 30th?

Within hours of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court last Monday night, a struggle erupted over whether the confirmation process would be conducted expeditiously or delayed.

After spending much of September reviewing appeals that have been filed over the summer, the Supreme Court will reconvene on Monday, October 1 for the start of the 2019 Term. Will Judge Kavanaugh sit to hear the first cases argued?

As you might expect, when Justices Sotomayor and Kagan were nominated, Democrat Senators Diane Feinstein, Patrick Lahey, and others demanded an expeditious hearing. There is an audio montage of their past statements running on radio.

Chief Justice John Roberts was confirmed in 72 days; Justice Gorsuch was confirmed in 66 days.

But now Democrat Senators are asking for millions of pages of documents relating to Brett Kavanaugh’s work 22 years ago for the Office of Independent Counsel Ken Starr and his work in the White House during the George W. Bush administration.

Wasn’t that all reviewed in the more than three years, from 2003 to 2006, that it took to confirm Judge Kavanaugh when he was nominated by President Bush to the D.C. Circuit?

The challenge for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, as they seek to complete an expeditious hearing and successful confirmation, is whether they can reasonably manage the Senate review.

By any measure, the nomination has a slim margin of error in the Senate. The makeup of the Senate is effectively 50-49 right now, since Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is ill. Two Republican Senators, Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AS) are very pro-abortion and questionable, as is Rand Paul (R-KY) for other reasons.

But on the other hand, there are four Democrat Senators who might vote for Kavanaugh: Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Each is running for reelection in November in a state that President Trump won in 2016: Indiana by 17 points, North Dakota by 35 points, West Virginia by 42 points, and Missouri by 19 points,

With the filibuster eliminated during the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch, Judge Kavanaugh will need only a majority of the votes, and the Vice President can vote to break a tie.

Thus, all in all, while challenges lie ahead for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, AUL believes the Senate leadership is in earnest in its expressed commitment to see him confirmed and seated by the start of the Supreme Court’s 2019 Term, and that the prospect of that occurring seems hopeful.