Hero or villain? Trump's court pick is in for a fight

12 July 2018, 07:55 | Shawn Tate

Judge Kavanaugh on the Confirmation Process - Volokh Conspiracy

Trump I didn't ask Kavanaugh about his views on abortion

Senator Charles Grassley believes President Trump's supreme court nominee is well qualified for the job and critics will have trouble preventing his quick confirmation.

Whether it will amount to anything substantive is an open question - Republicans involved in Kavanaugh's nomination say they are confident they don't expect any surprises, despite the sizable paper trail the appellate judge has left during a career in public service. King cites Kavanaugh's ambiguity on Roe v Wade, the Affordable Care Act's required coverage of pre-existing conditions and his comments about Presidential immunity as points of concern.

"What upset conservatives about (Kavanaugh) is that he didn't join in on the opinion in that case that suggested that there was no right to abortion at all", said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University.

Trump's choice was met with predictable reactions from Republicans and Democrats. It's unclear what evidence there is for that, other than Trump's promise to appoint anti-abortion judges.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in agreement with a Texas judge that the teenager was legally entitled to an abortion.

"We're not fooled by the argument that Kavanaugh isn't a "bomb-thrower" or that he's made no extreme controversial rulings", read another tweet.

"Obviously the more there is, the more opportunities there are to highlight why he's problematic", one senior Democratic aide said, adding that given it's a lifetime appointment, Democrats should have access to everything that exists.

The focus is on GOP Sens. With ailing Republican John McCain unable to vote, they have little wiggle room.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who heads the Republican conference in the Senate, said he wasn't anxious about defections from Collins and Murkowski. Kavanaugh sided with a religious group that objected to having to notify their insurer or the federal government if they wanted an exemption. But there is only one case in Kavanaugh's record that is related to reproductive rights.

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She was referring to "RBG", the new documentary about Ginsburg's life, in which she is shown expressing support for a woman's right to choose during her confirmation hearings in 1993.

American Bridge, an opposition research and communications operation that works to support Democratic candidates and find damaging information on their opponents, has launched a team of more than a dozen staffers in Washington and dozens more outside to dive into Kavanaugh's record - his personal record.

Kavanaugh's view that a prosecution of a president should be diferred, is not one he always held.

Among their targets are Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as well as Doug Jones of Alabama, who is not up for re-election but represents a conservative state in the Deep South.

These comments should ring alarm bells given that the president is now under legal investigation, while his executive orders are being challenged in court.

In 2009, Kavanaugh floated the idea that presidents should be immune from criminal and civil charges while in office because of the pressures of leading the nation.

Before he was a judge, he ran an investigation into the death of a deputy adviser to President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh served in the Bush administration, including as the president's staff secretary.

That line of thinking would be useful to Trump, who is unlikely to face impeachment so long as Republicans control Congress.



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