When it comes to filling the soon-to-be-empty seat on the Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is playing hardball.
In a private meeting Wednesday, McConnell apparently told senior Republicans he may keep pushing back the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until right before the November midterms, sources tell Politico. Why? Because Democrats keep trying to surface the nominee's long paper trail, and McConnell, it seems, is sick of it.
Even before President Trump had announced his nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, Democrats were dead-set on a strategy of resistance, warning Trump's pick could cement a conservative majority on the nation's highest court and spell disaster for issues like reproductive rights. Since then, Democrats have been requesting every piece of Kavanaugh's records in an attempt to find something they can use to fight his confirmation.
McConnell is apparently ready to retaliate. He's already canceled the Senate's August recess, and is looking to drain Democrats' campaign time even more by delaying Kavanaugh's confirmation vote, per Politico. The delay would mean red-state Democrats wouldn't be able to leave the Capitol and utilize valuable campaign time until the Kavanaugh vote, and his potential confirmation would serve them a crushing defeat just days before voters head to the polls.
If Democrats manage to flip the Senate this fall, that could give them the 50 votes they need to defeat Kavanaugh's nomination. But McConnell has already pledged to hold the vote before the midterms, even if it's at the very last minute. Kathryn Krawczyk
Brett Kavanaugh hinted at his actual views on Roe, public religion, police searches in a speech last fall
Last September, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh gave a speech about late Chief Justice William Rehnquist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and he had a lot of nice things to say about Rehnquist's opposition to Roe v. Wade, rejection of "a wall of separation between church and state," and push to weaken the rights of suspects against police, the Los Angeles Times reports. The speech is illuminating because Kavanaugh is "not writing as a judge," said Drexel University law professor David S. Cohen. "This is him telling us his own views. And while he doesn't come out and say 'the dissent is right,' it is pretty clear he agrees with Rehnquist" that Roe was a mistake.
Kavanaugh called Rehnquist his "first judicial hero," and explained why he believed the justice's dissent in the 7-2 Roe decision was correct. "It is fair to say that Justice Rehnquist was not successful in convincing a majority of justices in the context of abortion, either in Roe itself or in later cases such as Casey," Kavanaugh said. "But he was successful in stemming the general tide of free-wheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation's history and tradition." Kavanaugh said Rehnquist also moved the ball on dismantling the "wall" between church and state — a bad metaphor "based on bad history" — and weakened but did not end the "exclusionary rule" that prohibits police from using illegally obtained evidence.
"All three of areas of law — abortion, religion, and police searches — are likely to be in flux if Kavanaugh is confirmed and joins the high court this fall," the Times notes. And although Kavanaugh did not mention it, Justice Anthony Kennedy — whom Kavanaugh would replace — cast the deciding vote against Rehnquist's efforts to overturn Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, allow prayer at public school events, and gut the "exclusionary rule." Read more at the Los Angeles Times. Peter Weber
Major League Baseball is perhaps the only affordable major pro sport left in America, but Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh still managed to max out three credit cards and a Thrift Savings Plan loan buying tickets to see the Washington Nationals in 2016, the White House said Wednesday. In financial disclosure forms, Kavanaugh reported having $60,000 to $200,000 in debt in 2016, not including his $865,000 mortgage, and White House spokesman Raj Shah tells The Washington Post that President Trump's nominee went into debt buying Nats season tickets and playoff game tickets for himself and a "handful" of friends, and also on home improvements.
Kavanaugh paid off the debt in 2017, or at least enough of the debt to get it below the reporting threshold, and he has stopped buying season tickets, Shah said. The financial disclosure forms do not require that Kavanaugh disclose the source or nature of his payments, but as a federal appellate judge, Kavanaugh earns about $220,000 a year, and he made $27,000 teaching at Harvard Law School in 2017, according to the disclosures. Shah said the undisclosed number of unidentified friends paid Kavanaugh back for their share of the tickets. Kavanaugh has a habit of going into debt, presumably to watch baseball, and also reported $60,000 to $200,000 in 2006, the year he was confirmed as an appellate judge.
In all, Kavanaugh reported assets of between $15,000 and $65,000, which does not include a number of things, like his house in Chevy Chase or his federal retirement account. You can read more about Kavanaugh's assets and liabilities at The Washington Post. Peter Weber