trust politicians about as much as they trust used-car salesmen, and it’s
understandable that voters view what my colleagues and I say and do through a
skeptical lens. But elected officials can also exhibit moments of exceeding
July 10, the morning after President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to
the Supreme Court, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he’d oppose the
nomination “with everything I’ve got.” If the weeks since are any indicator, we
should believe him.
after news broke that Justice Anthony Kennedy was retiring, Democrats demanded
that the president wait until the next Congress to appoint a replacement. They
cited the “Biden rule,” a precedent based on then-Senate Judiciary Committee
Chairman Joe Biden’s 1992 pronouncement that his committee would wait until
after the heated presidential election season to consider any Supreme Court
nomination. This year is a midterm election year, not a presidential one. Most
Democrats have abandoned the talking point, but they haven’t abandoned the goal
of delaying the process.
Mr. Schumer announced that he would oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination before
he read the judge’s 307 written opinions and the many other opinions he joined.
Certainly, it was before he reviewed the more than 17,000 pages Judge Kavanaugh
provided to the committee in response to our bipartisan questionnaire and an
estimated one million pages of documents the committee has requested from the
Bush White House, where Judge Kavanaugh once worked.
stands to reason that Senator Schumer wasn’t too concerned about Judge Kavanaugh’s
record before he announced his opposition. Why is it so important to Senator
leaders are demanding access to every page from every email and every paper
record from every one of the hundreds of White House aides who came and went
during the entire eight years of President Bush’s time in office. This includes
records that merely mention Judge Kavanaugh’s name and records he’s never seen.
That is not reasonable. As I have made clear, I will not put taxpayers on the
hook for a fishing expedition.
documents include those from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as White House staff
secretary, a post that manages the paper flow into and out of the Oval Office.
They are both the least relevant documents to the nomination and the most
sensitive to the executive branch, two considerations that have guided previous
review processes. They’re extremely sensitive because they contain policy
advice that went directly to President Bush, and the policy directives that
came directly from him, on the full range of presidential responsibilities,
including national security.
staff secretary is an important position, but it’s decidedly less revealing of
Judge Kavanaugh’s legal thinking than his 12 years as a judge on the U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and his legal service in
the White House Counsel’s Office and the Office of Independent Counsel—roles in
which he acted as a lawyer. The staff secretary documents consist largely of
materials Judge Kavanaugh didn’t write. They were prepared by policy advisers
across the executive branch. The materials are also saturated with irrelevant
documents—including miscellaneous news clippings, the daily schedule, and even
the White House lunch menu.
number of pages would range in the millions, an unprecedented document dump
that would take well into next year to review. And that’s exactly what
Democratic leaders want and have wanted all along. Within hours after Justice
Kennedy announced his retirement, Democrats telegraphed their strategy to block
Mr. Trump from appointing a replacement. Their objective is to delay the confirmation
process until after the midterm elections, with the hope of taking control of
the Senate. My Democratic counterpart on the Judiciary Committee’s hometown
newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, put it quite succinctly: “Feinstein,
other Senate Dems have plan on Brett Kavanaugh nomination: Stall.”
recent complaints from Mr. Schumer and other Democrats about the scope of
records requests ring hollow, especially coming from senators who have already
declared their opposition to Judge Kavanaugh and initially refused even to meet
arguments have changed, but their goal hasn’t. First, it was a
misrepresentation of the Biden rule—whose existence they denied in 2016. Now,
it’s a manufactured document fight. Both arguments have been made with the aim
of stalling the confirmation process until after midterms.
next time you hear complaints about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vetting
process—the most extensive and transparent in history—remember Mr. Schumer’s
pledge to oppose Judge Kavanaugh with everything he’s got. How much more do
Democratic leaders need to know when they’re already voting no?