Republicans on Capitol Hill praised President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy Wednesday, calling for a speedy and seamless confirmation process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Democrats struggled to develop a viable strategy to stop him.
“I think it was an excellent choice,” said Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill. “Brett Kavanaugh is somebody that will stand up for the Constitution, somebody that will stand up for the rule of law.”
Trump announced the selection of Kavanaugh at the White House on Monday night. Senate Republicans hope to get him seated on the bench and secure a conservative shift in the balance of the court before the November elections, where they face the risk of losing their slim majority.
GOP lawmakers cited Kavanaugh’s extensive record as a respected jurist on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as a primary qualification.
“Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding nominee,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. “Read his record, read some of his writings. He’s written 300 opinions; 12 of his opinions have been accepted by the Supreme Court as formation of new law in this country, which is a huge complement to him as a judge in the system.”
Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., said everything he has heard about Kavanaugh is positive, but he anticipates learning much more as the Senate sifts through the judge’s career, including his years working with special counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of the Clinton White House and his work for President George W. Bush before he was appointed to the appellate court.
“He spent five years in the White House, he spent 12 years already on the bench,” Valadao said. “Digging through all his decisions and every email at the White House, its going to take some time.”
The GOP sales pitch also focused heavily on Kavanaugh’s personal life as a husband and father.
“I don’t know him personally, but I know some who do,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill. “They speak of him not only as a well-balanced jurist but also as a good person and a good dad.”
Davis urged the media to pay more attention to that side of Kavanaugh’s background.
“I also like the fact that Brett Kavanaugh is a real person,” LaHood said. “You look at his family, look at his two young daughters, the fact that he’s coached his daughters, been involved with his community, that’s the kind of person you want on the Supreme Court.”
Democrats have already raised several objections to Kavanaugh based on his record and his writings, but Republicans dismissed those doubts as partisan handwringing.
“There will be some partisan efforts on the behalf of the Democrats to scuttle his nomination for political reasons, but I don’t think for reasons that make any sense,” Isakson said.
Democrats are seeking mountains of documents from Kavanaugh’s time in Starr’s office, in the White House, and on the bench. Beyond the time it takes to produce and review whatever records are released, they have few options available to delay or prevent his confirmation before the election.
If Democrats stay united in opposition and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., remains absent due to cancer treatment, one dissenting Republican could be enough to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has stated she would not support a judge who is hostile to the Roe v. Wade decision, but she has suggested Kavanaugh’s respect for precedent may satisfy her concerns.
Though Kavanaugh acknowledged Roe as a binding precedent during his circuit court confirmation hearing in 2006, Democrats say the fact that he made it onto President Trump’s list of potential justices vetted by conservative organizations is evidence enough that he would be a reliable vote against abortion rights.
Despite their confidence in Kavanaugh’s qualifications and his temperament, Republicans acknowledged Wednesday that a hard battle may lie ahead.
“I hope he survives, but right now I’m going to do the due diligence I need to do to cast my vote when the time comes,” Isakson said.