Kavanaugh hearing stirs controversy
By Evelyn Archibald
On Tuesday, Sept. 4, Judge Brett Kavanaugh appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to be interviewed as a nominee for Supreme Court Justice. The position opened up in July when previous Justice Anthony Kennedy officially retired. Shortly after Judge Kennedy’s retirement announcement, President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh for the seat in the Supreme Court.
Judge Kavanaugh has been a judge on the D.C. Circuit since 2006 and was previously an aide to President George W. Bush. He is well-liked in some conservative legal circles because of some of his rulings and actions.
The hearings opened with delay. Sen. Kamala Harris called to attention the 42,000 documents, received the night before, that the Senate had not yet had a chance to review. “We cannot possibly move forward, Mr. Chairman, with this hearing.” Sen. Harris said. Chairman Chuck Grassley proceeded. “We are not in executive session; we will continue as planned,” Chairman Grassley said. Other senators joined Sen. Harris in moving to adjourn, but the hearing continued.
According to the New York Times, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in her opening statement, quoted the President’s statement that he will nominate “someone who is anti-choice and pro-gun.” Both these topics – abortion and gun control – were touched on in these hearings, by Sen. Feinstein and others.
Many outside and inside the courtroom expressed concern that Judge Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, a case from 1973 that established the right to an abortion, if chosen as a justice. In emails from 2003 that were recently disclosed, Judge Kavanaugh replied to an email chain, stating: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land […] court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.” That opinion was questioned in the hearings. Judge Kavanaugh defended his point as a concern about accuracy, but many pro-choice people outside of the courtroom were not convinced.
Many protesters gathered near the courtroom at the time of the hearing to protest Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination and potential confirmation. “This is a mockery and a travesty of justice,” one protester yelled as they were escorted away by police, according to NPR, which also reported that more than 200 protesters were physically removed from the courtroom and arrested from Sept. 4 and Sept. 7.
Judge Kavanaugh has also made statements in the past concerning executive power and presidential responsibility. This is a hot topic in politics, especially considering that the president is currently involved with certain legal cases such as the investigation into any ties the Russian government might have had to the 2016 election and Donald Trump’s campaign. Some speculate that President Trump might have nominated Judge Kavanaugh because of his views on presidential responsibility.
On the last day of the hearing – Friday, Sept. 7 – witnesses were called in to testify for or against Judge Kavanaugh. One such witness was John Dean, the White House counsel under President Nixon and a key witness in the Watergate hearing. According to The Washington Post, Mr. Dean testified against Judge Kavanaugh, saying that his confirmation would lead to a Supreme Court that would be “overly deferential” to presidential powers, which he calls “deeply troubling.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote for or against Judge Kavanaugh on Sept. 13, although it might be delayed into the next week.
Featured Image (at the top of this post): PHOTO CREDIT: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images