Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings will be held the first week of September, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) announced Friday.
The hearings for President Trump’s pick to replace retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will be held Sept. 4-7, according to a notice sent to Senate Republican offices Friday and obtained by The Washington Post, although the committee noted that the hearing could be three or four days.
“As I said after his nomination, Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most respected jurists in the country and one of the most qualified nominees ever to be considered by the Senate for a seat on our highest court,” Grassley said in a statement Friday. “He’s a mainstream judge. He has a record of judicial independence and applying the law as it is written. He’s met with dozens of senators who have nothing but positive things to say.”
The first day of hearings will be dedicated to opening statements from senators. Kavanaugh will face questioning starting Sept. 5. Then outside witnesses, legal experts and the American Bar Association will follow.
“He’ll get confirmed. It won’t be a landslide, but he’ll get confirmed,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in an interview Friday morning with WKDZ radio in Kentucky. He said the Senate was “moving right along” for Kavanaugh to be confirmed by Oct. 1, when the Supreme Court will convene for its fall term.
Grassley’s team of counsels and other aides have reviewed 4,800 pages of legal opinions that Kavanaugh wrote, more than 17,000 pages related to Kavanaugh’s committee questionnaire, and more than 184,000 pages of the nominee’s documents from his tenure working in the George W. Bush White House and for independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
“With the Senate already reviewing more documents than for any other Supreme Court nominee in history, Chairman Grassley has lived up to his promise to lead an open, transparent and fair process,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said Friday. “Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to addressing the Judiciary Committee in public hearings for the American people to view.”
But the documents have been a major point of contention in the Senate. Democratic senators have been infuriated with how Grassley and other Republicans have released Kavanaugh’s documents in a slow trickle since the papers began arriving at the Senate late last week.
Those pages are being released on a rolling basis by the committee, after a team of lawyers for Bush reviews them and clears them for public release. But thousands of pages — which are a fraction of all the documents from Kavanaugh’s tenure as Bush’s associate White House counsel — that have already been given to the committee are still considered “committee confidential,” which means no one outside the panel’s senators and staff can review them.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, raised concerns about a “lack of transparency” in releasing Kavanaugh’s papers in a new letter to Grassley on Friday. The committee has received about 175,000 pages from the Bush library, but has publicly released only 5,700 pages.
“Simply stated, this is unacceptable. The senators and the public must have access to Mr. Kavanaugh’s full record,” Feinstein wrote to Grassley. “Additionally, this committee has never allowed a third party to control what information is kept confidential, and should not do so now when we are considering a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
A spokeswoman for Feinstein said the senator is “reviewing options in the event he continues to restrict access to only senators on the committee.” Grassley’s aides have said they expect to release more of those papers on a rolling basis.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Republicans of hastily scheduling a confirmation hearing to conceal “important information” from the public about Kavanaugh’s background.
“Republican efforts to make this the least transparent, most secretive Supreme Court nomination in history continue,” Schumer said. “They seem to be more frightened of this nominee’s record and history than any we’ve ever considered.”