Patrick J. Leahy (D - VT) Likely No

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9 Statements
(Statements last updated September 24, 2018 10:54 PM -04:00.)

August 24: Given the possibility of criminal wrongdoing by the President, doubts that Judge Kavanaugh believes a president can even be investigated, and the unprecedented lack of transparency regarding this nominee's record, we should not move forward with hearings on September 4th. Instead, we should have a special meeting of the Committee to discuss a bipartisan, fair, and transparent process for moving forward. (Twitter)

August 22: Yesterday I met with Judge Kavanaugh. I had the opportunity to ask him about many issues, including his work in the Bush White House. Following our meeting, I believe even more strongly that documents he authored or contributed to during his three years as the White House Staff Secretary should be released and made public now. A vigilant review of a Supreme Court nominee’s full record is not optional. And it should not depend on what party controls the White House. Today, it is undeniable that documents of clear public interest are being hidden from the American people. Documents that would shed a light on both his views and his fitness to serve on our Nation’s highest court. Wearing blinders in this moment is fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional obligation to provide advice and informed consent...The Senate should not be focused on getting Judge Kavanaugh confirmed by October 1st. The Senate should be focused on doing its job. And that requires allowing the National Archives to complete its review of Judge Kavanaugh’s record as required by the Presidential Records Act. At a time when the President is facing unprecedented legal jeopardy, it would be an extraordinary disservice to the American people to break all precedents and confirm his selection to the Supreme Court without an actual review...We should set this partisan vetting aside and work together to actually vet Judge Kavanaugh’s record in a way that honors both our constitutional obligation and the job the American people sent us here to do. (senate.gov)

August 22: It is difficult to reconcile the Judiciary Committee’s inaction here with its race to confirm President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. The timeline that Republicans are pursuing to consider Judge Kavanaugh is so aggressive that it will sideline the nonpartisan review of the nominee’s record performed by the National Archives, which has occurred for every Supreme Court nominee since Watergate. (senate.gov)

August 17: Judge Kavanaugh said that his “five and a half years in the White House — and especially [his] three years as Staff Secretary for President Bush — were the most interesting and in many ways among the most instructive.” The importance of documents related to this time in Judge Kavanaugh’s career is self-evident. I find it troubling that the White House and Judiciary Committee Republicans are stifling transparency rather than working together to provide the necessary documents for the Senate to do its work. The American people deserve the unvarnished truth about Judge Kavanaugh, just as Senate Republicans rightly demanded of President Obama’s nominees. (senate.gov)

August 16: As you know, in 2006, Judge Kavanaugh told the Committee under oath that he was “not aware of any issues” regarding “the legal justifications or the policies relating to the treatment of detainees”; was “not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants”; had nothing to do with issues related to rendition; and was unaware of, and saw no documents related to, the warrantless wiretapping program conducted without congressional authorization. However, at least two documents that are publicly available on the Bush Library website from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as Staff Secretary suggest that he was involved in issues related to torture and rendition after 9/11...In addition, documents that have been produced to the Committee as part of the partisan process that you have brokered with Bill Burck further undercut Judge Kavanaugh’s blanket assertions that he had no involvement in or knowledge of post-9/11 terrorism policies. These documents are currently being withheld from the public at your insistence, but they shed additional light on Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement in these matters and are needed to question him in a public hearing...Whether Judge Kavanaugh misled this Committee in 2006 and his involvement in these White House policies are critically important to our consideration of his fitness for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. (senate.gov)

August 16: The White House was well aware of Judge Kavanaugh’s lengthy, controversial record as a political operative when the President selected him. But the President selected him nonetheless. Now the burden falls to this Committee to review his record. To date, we are failing miserably...I do not arrive at this conclusion lightly, but this is the most incomplete, most partisan, and least transparent vetting for any Supreme Court nominee I have ever seen. This is especially concerning given that there are questions about whether Judge Kavanaugh was truthful the last time he testified before the Senate, as he provided a misleading account of his work in the Bush White House. We will only know the full truth with his full record. This is what Republicans rightly demanded from Justices Kagan and Sotomayor. And it is what the American people rightly deserve from Judge Kavanaugh. There is still time to get this right. It may mean that the consideration of Judge Kavanaugh does not occur in September. But there is no need to rush. (senate.gov)

August 10: There are so many things wrong with the Judiciary Committee’s vetting of Judge Kavanaugh that it is hard to know where to begin. The review of his record has gone from being shameful to an outright sham. The nonpartisan National Archives cannot complete its review of the limited documents requested by Chairman Grassley until October. This does not even include any of the millions of records from Judge Kavanaugh’s three contentious years as White House Staff Secretary. Now, Chairman Grassley is sidelining the National Archives altogether and relying on a partisan operative to handpick what documents the American people will get to see — a hyper-conflicted lawyer who reported directly to Judge Kavanaugh in the Bush White House and who also happens to represent Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and White House Counsel Don McGahn in the Russia investigation. Unlike the transparent process outlined by the Presidential Records Act, which has been used for every nominee since Watergate, there will be no unbiased review or accountability to the American people. This will mark the most partisan and least transparent vetting of a Supreme Court nominee in modern history. Democrats have been repeatedly asking what Senate Republicans are trying to hide in Judge Kavanaugh’s record. Now Republicans are ensuring the American people will not find out. This is incompatible with our constitutional obligation to provide informed consent.This isn’t a vetting, it is an attempted coronation. (senate.gov)

August 8: “I have been here for 19 Supreme Court nominations. Yet I’ve never seen the Senate forced to rely on FOIA to fulfill its constitutional duty of providing advice and informed consent to a President’s nominee. But Senate Republicans’ shortsighted decision to turn a blind eye on three controversial and formative years of Judge Kavanaugh’s career leaves us no choice. The American people deserve to know the unvarnished truth about a nominee who, if confirmed, will shape their lives for a generation or longer. Transparency shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Leahy said. “But if Senate Republicans insist on keeping the American people in the dark about Judge Kavanaugh, it falls upon Democratic senators to use every tool at our disposal, including FOIA, to shine a light on his record.” (senate.gov)

July 9: Based on an initial review of Judge Kavanaugh’s record, we are right to be concerned. President Trump views the independent judiciary as a political branch. He sees the courts as an extension of his power, not a check against it. Yet Judge Kavanaugh’s record reveals an endorsement of this expansive view of presidential power — views that ultimately may place the president above the law. And as a judge he has consistently attempted to dismantle environmental protections and to limit women’s rights. I also still have questions about how truthful he was during his 2006 confirmation hearing regarding his involvement in Bush-era detention policies. The heavy burden is now on Judge Kavanaugh to use his nomination hearing to be forthright with the American people. He must not evade fundamental questions that judicial nominees have answered for decades until recently. He needs to explain why we should believe he would be a justice for all Americans, independent of the President and the ideologically driven interest groups that selected him. (senate.gov)

 

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