The Senate Judiciary Committee completed four days of hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of D.C. Judge Brett Kavanaugh and a vote reportedly will come in about two weeks.
The hearings were marred with protests and demonstrations against Kavanaugh as more than 227 demonstrators were arrested between the Sept. 4 start of the proceedings and the end of testimony Friday, according to Capitol authorities.
On Day 2, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris grilled Kavanaugh on whether he had discussed special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election with anyone at the law firm of Kasowitz Benson Torres, which was founded by Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz.
On Day 3, Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker sought the release of a memo on racial profiling, one of thousands received by the committee but labeled “Committee Confidential,” which allows senators to review but not make public, according to NPR.
The memo was drafted by Kavanaugh during his time in the George W. Bush White House.
Booker attempted to ask Kavanaugh about it during questioning, but Republicans raised a point of order, saying it was unfair to Kavanaugh to be asked to comment on a document he didn’t have before him.
Later, Booker said he was making the memo public, despite the possible consequences.
“I’m going to release the email about racial profiling and I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate,” he said.
Also, one day before the hearings ended, members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a news conference where Congress members said President Donald Trump’s choice would endanger historically significant legal precedents of importance to African Americans and, more broadly, the balance of inclusive justice itself.
“Plain and simple: Courts matter, especially the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land,” said CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.). “But for the Supreme Court, African Americans wouldn’t be able to attend integrated schools, buy a home previously owned by a white person, or sleep at certain hotels. This is what is at stake for our community every time a president gets to nominate a Supreme Court justice.”
Based on the CBC’s review of Kavanaugh’s record, his jurisprudence would likely make the Supreme Court more conservative than it already is, and threaten policies and protections that allow African Americans and other marginalized communities to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, added Richmond, who joined others at the conference which was live-streamed on Twitter.
Caucus members said they’ve spent more than a century fighting to achieve equal protection in America and continue this effort, particularly through the federal courts and the Supreme Court.
“Judge Kavanagh’s record as a federal judge gives every indication that he lacks respect for well-established precedents and would engage in aggressive judicial activism that could mean the reversal of important decisions that have afforded African Americans a measure of equal citizenship in a nation that has often stood in the way of its pursuit,” Richmond said.
Repeatedly, Kavanaugh has demonstrated a lack of respect for the judicial precedents that have ensured equal protection under the law for decades, members said in a letter to Senate leaders. Specifically, he has shown inadequate commitment to legal precedents that protect communities of color, women and, more recently, LGBTQ Americans, they said.
“Instead, he has embraced jurisprudence so out of the mainstream of legal thought that even his conservative Republican-appointed judicial colleagues often have not agreed with him,” said D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. “Although serving on a court with a majority appointed by Republican presidents, Judge Kavanaugh averages a higher number of dissents annually than any other member of the D.C. Circuit Court. Case law precedents and the laws they represent are the contours of our legal system, ensuring that cherished rights are protected.”
Further, a judge who so frequently questions key legal precedents endangers the legal framework that has benefited African Americans, she said.
“Our substantive concerns, along with the ongoing investigations under special counsel Robert Mueller implicating the president, coupled with this nominee’s ability to influence the outcome of an appeal, leave us no choice but to strongly urge rejection of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” she said.