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Kavanaugh Column, News

Senator Grassley’s Takedown of the Democrats’ Document Snowball

Yesterday, we examined the parties’ comparative voting records on Supreme Court nominees and found that nominees of Republican presidents have a longer road to confirmation than do Democratic nominees. One way that opponents of a nominee can slow the process down is by insisting on the production of voluminous records ostensibly relating to the nominee’s career, resulting in a “document snowball” that has a double effect – retarding both the production time and the time for review of an avalanche of paper. Although our question “whether Democrats are the ones sandbagging this nominee” may have seemed hasty and judgmental, consider Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA)’s July 25th response to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)’s request for all documents relating to Judge Kavanaugh’s service as Staff Secretary to President Bush.

Senator Grassley promised Schumer that the Kavanaugh nomination “will be the most transparent in history and will involve the largest disclosure of White House records of any Supreme Court nomination ever before,” involving up to a million pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s service in the White House Counsel’s Office, in addition to documents relating to Kavanaugh’s service on Ken Starr’s Office of the Independent Counsel in the Clinton years, the White House’s file for his circuit court nomination and thousands of pages from his opinions on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. All in all, Grassley said, “The Senate will receive more White House records for Judge Kavanaugh than it did for the previous five Supreme Court nominees combined.” However, Grassley steadfastly declined to request all documents related to Kavanaugh’s service as Staff Secretary to President Bush – a functionary position whose primary role is “chief paper pusher to the president,” so-to-speak, as former AUL board member Yuval Levin recently explained for the Ethics & Public Policy Center. And Senator Schumer failed to explain “how these records will provide senators any meaningful insight into Judge Kavanaugh’s legal thinking,” Grassley pointed out.

After patiently explaining why he would not go along with this outsized document request, Senator Grassley, it’s fair to say, unloaded on Schumer:

Finally, I am skeptical that your request for Staff Secretary documents is made in good faith. After all, you stated that you will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation “with everything [you’ve] got.” Just yesterday, another Democratic senator made the galling comment that supporters of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination are “complicit” in “evil.” If most Democrats have already made up their minds about Judge Kavanaugh, given the considerable record already available for review, I fail to see how additional documents will be useful. On top of this, you have refused to meet with Judge Kavanaugh. This refusal is highly irregular. In light of the outright opposition to Judge Kavanaugh from Democratic leadership and many members of your caucus, it is clear to me that your demand for millions of additional pages of comparatively irrelevant documents is an attempt to obstruct the confirmation process.

Here’s hoping that the millions of pages being made available to members on Kavanaugh’s august career will show all that this nomination is truly “the most transparent in history,” and that opposition efforts to suggest otherwise will fall flat.