US Republicans have argued that a record number of documents have been provided for review related to the career of Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee whose hearing before the Senate will begin on September 4, 2018 (CHIP SOMODEVILLA)
Washington (AFP) – The US Senate will begin its confirmation hearing on President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court on September 4, a top lawmaker said Friday.
The hearing process should last three to four days, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said, putting Republicans in position to meet their goal of getting Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed and onto the nine-member bench before its term begins in early October.
“It’s time for the American people to hear directly from Judge Kavanaugh at his public hearing,” Grassley said in a statement.
Trump’s second pick for the high court — his first, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed last year — is a conservative federal judge who worked in president George W. Bush’s White House, and who has written hundreds of legal opinions.
Democrats have pressed for access to the full scope of documents from Kavanaugh’s extensive career, including his time as a White House lawyer and then as White House staff secretary, an important position that controls the flow of documentation to and from the Oval Office.
Grassley’s office said the committee has to date received more than 184,000 pages of records from Kavanaugh’s work as a White House lawyer and from his work for Kenneth Starr, an independent counsel who investigated president Bill Clinton.
The committee also expects to receive “hundreds of thousands of additional pages” of executive branch documents, the office said.
Democrats have sought to gain access to the full available record of Kavanaugh’s work.
“Reviewing a small set of documents that his own former deputy chose fails to provide a complete picture,” Senator Dianne Feinstein tweeted on Friday.
Following the hearings announcement White House spokesman Raj Shah said Grassley “has lived up to his promise to lead an open, transparent and fair process.”
“Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to addressing the Judiciary Committee in public hearings for the American people to view.”
The vote could end up a nailbiter. Republicans control the Senate 51 to 49, but Senator John McCain is battling brain cancer and not expected to vote.
That leaves the narrowest of majorities, 50-49, meaning if all Democrats unite against Kavanaugh, a single Republican defector could sink the nomination.
Democrats have branded the 53-year-old nominee, who would replace retired justice Anthony Kennedy, as a deeply conservative jurist who would shift the court rightward, jeopardizing critical rulings on the constitutionality of abortion rights and the legality of Barack Obama’s health care reforms.
Republicans have pushed back, portraying Kavanaugh as a “mainstream” jurist and warning that Democrats are merely seeking to put up roadblocks obstructing Trump.
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