By Susan McFarland
July 10 (UPI) — The Senate on Tuesday began discussions about Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s appointee to replace Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, even before he arrived on Capitol Hill.
Trump announced Kavanaugh late Monday as his much-anticipated choice to fill the vacancy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened Tuesday’s meeting with a strong endorsement, saying Kavanaugh’s resume is superb.
Kavanaugh later met with McConnell, Vice President and Senate President Mike Pence and a number of other lawmakers during a visit Tuesday.
McConnell also said he expects Senate Democrats to grill Kavanaugh on decisions he might make, which he characterized as atypical for the confirmation process. Instead, he asked them to weigh the judge on his qualifications.
“Justice Kennedy’s resignation letter had barely arrived in the president’s hands before several of our Democratic colleagues began declaring their blanket opposition to anyone at all,” McConnell said. “We should evaluate this president’s nominee fairly. … And we should treat this process with the respect and the dignity that it deserves.”
The fight to block Kavanaugh from the bench, though, was in full swing Tuesday.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer laid out a plan to impede the appointment, which he hopes will “lead to a more independent, moderate selection that both parties can support.”
Republicans control the Senate, 51-49, which means Schumer needs at least two GOP lawmakers and opposition from every other Democrat to block Kavanaugh. He needs only one Republican to switch if Arizona Sen. John McCain can’t vote.
“If we can prove to the American people, which I believe is truly the case, that this nominee will lead to a court that repeals women’s reproductive freedom, repeals ACA with its protections for pre-existing conditions, we will get a majority of the Senate to vote for it,” Schumer told CBS News Tuesday. “If we can make that case, we will get a majority.”
Several Democrats have already said they will oppose Kavanaugh on the bench, and Schumer said senators need time to review his writings because “this new justice will be so pivotal in determining the future of our nation for so long.”
Legal watchdog Fix the Court, represented by American Oversight, filed complaints in federal court Tuesday to seek documents from Kavanaugh’s previous government service — including his work on Special Counsel Kenneth Starr’s team in the 1990s that investigated President Bill Clinton, and his time as White House staff secretary from 2003 to 2006 under President George W. Bush.
“Given the potential impact of this nomination, it is essential for the American people and the Senate to fully vet Judge Kavanaugh,” American Oversight executive director Austin Evers said. “The public has a right to examine Judge Kavanaugh’s track record before the Senate votes on his confirmation.”
Kavanaugh has served on the bench of the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006, appointed by Bush. He would take the bench in August, as Kennedy retires July 31.