The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Kavanaugh confirmation hearings not likely until September, Senate Judiciary chairman says

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh arrives for a meeting with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) on Capitol Hill, July 17, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Senate is not planning to hold confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh until September, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday, raising the possibility that President Trump’s choice to succeed Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will not be confirmed in time for the start of the court term on Oct. 1.

Kavanaugh has been keeping a steady schedule of meetings with lawmakers in the weeks since Trump announced his nomination on July 9. On Wednesday, Kavanaugh was on Capitol Hill for meetings with seven senators.

In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) was asked whether there is even “a 10 percent chance” that his committee will hold hearings on Kavanaugh in August.

“I don’t think so,” Grassley replied. He said that it appears “early September would be the earliest” that the hearings would take place.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on July 24 reasserted the Senate would “finish” the nomination before the 2018 midterm elections. (Video: The Washington Post)

Republicans are hopeful that the hearings will wrap up in time for Kavanaugh to be installed before the court starts its new term on the first Monday of October, although Grassley suggested Wednesday that it’s possible the process may take longer.

“So if we could get this all done by October 1st when the Supreme Court starts its new fall session, [it] would be ideal,” Grassley said. “But I think we can get it done soon after that if we don’t get it done by October 1st.”

Senators this week have stepped up a bitter fight over documents related to Kavanaugh’s tenure as staff secretary for President George W. Bush, in a sign that the upcoming confirmation process is likely to be an acrimonious one.