come to the floor today to respond to remarks made this morning by the Minority
Leader. And to add some additional context that he left out.
spoke on the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately,
he didn’t come to the floor to talk about the judge’s excellent qualifications,
his well-regarded temperament or judicial philosophy. He didn’t come to the
floor to announce that he would finally extend the courtesy of a meeting to the
Judge, which is customary in this body.
came to speak about what he thinks will satisfy left-wing outside groups. He
demands that I sign a letter that would put the American taxpayers on the hook
for a Democratic fishing expedition. I’m not going to do that.
I agree that we should have a thorough vetting process for the nominee. And
that we should review materials that would reveal Judge Kavanaugh’s legal
thinking. That’s our job. We’re not a rubber stamp.
we have immediate access to the most valuable documents out there that reveal
Judge Kavanaugh’s legal thinking. We have access to the more than 300 opinions
Judge Kavanaugh authored in his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit, as well as the
hundreds more opinions he joined. In these opinions, he addressed some of the
most significant legal issues of the past decade from the second most powerful
court in the country.
morning, the Minority Leader brought up a statement I made in 2010 in
connection with Justice Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination. At that time, I was
interested in reviewing documents from her time in the Clinton administration.
the Minority Leader neglects to mention is, unlike Judge Kavanaugh, Justice
Kagan hadn’t served as a judge before being nominated to the Supreme Court. Other than her materials she submitted as part of the
Senate Judiciary Questionnaire for her nomination, her White House Counsel’s
Office and Domestic Policy Council documents among the only categories that
could shed light on her legal thinking.
Kagan had written or joined a grand total of zero judicial opinions before her
nomination. In order to carry out our ‘advise and consent’ responsibility as
senators, we needed to better understand her legal thinking and potential
Kavanaugh, by contrast, has authored over 300 judicial opinions in his 12 years
on the bench. Over three hundred. That doesn’t
include the hundreds of other decisions where he joined an opinion or order.
When you add those to the mix, that’s thousands of pages of judicial writing
that the American people have access to at this exact moment.
Kagan, of course, had zero pages of judicial opinions. This is in
addition to the 6,168 pages of records Judge Kavanaugh just included in his
response to the Senate Judiciary Questionnaire. Despite the fact that
Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record is much more substantial than Justice Kagan’s
was, I agree that we should still ask the White House for documents pertaining
to Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the White House Counsel’s Office.
Democratic colleagues say they want the White House records. Well, I’m pleased
to let them know that, in the coming weeks, the Senate will receive what will likely be the largest document production in history for
a Supreme Court nomination.
expect that the Senate could receive up to a million
pages of documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the White House
Counsel’s Office. We will also see the White House nominations
file for Judge Kavanaugh’s 2006 nomination to the D.C. Circuit, along with
records from Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the Office of the Independent Counsel. By
comparison, we received less than 180,000 pages for Justice Kagan’s time in two
White House offices.
recap: We have more than 300 of Judge Kavanaugh’s actual judicial opinions to
Justice Kagan’s zero. We could have up to five-times as many pages from his
time in the White House than we got from Justice Kagan. And we will have those
documents despite the fact that they’re less necessary now than they were for Justice
Kagan. In short, there will be much more transparency in this Supreme Court
confirmation process than ever before.
I’m ready to send a letter to the National Archives requesting relevant White
House Counsel documents. I’d like to do this with the Ranking Member, but
unfortunately she has declined this request. This is unfortunate. Both sides
agree the White House Counsel documents are relevant. I’d like to get them over
here as quickly as possible so we can begin reviewing them. But, as I’ve noted,
Democratic leadership has already decided to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s
confirmation. They’d like to slow down the process as much as possible. I think
that explains why the Ranking Member won’t sign a letter requesting documents
that both sides want.
heard that some of my Democratic colleagues would like to request all of Judge
Kavanaugh’s records from his time as White House Staff Secretary. But these
documents are both the least relevant to Judge Kavanaugh’s legal thinking and
the most sensitive to the Executive Branch. The Staff Secretary is the inbox
and outbox to the Oval Office. Passing through the Staff Secretary’s office are
a wide range of communications: from requests for flying the flag at half-mast
to the daily lunch menu to draft speeches to sensitive national security
Staff Secretary’s primary charge is not to provide his own substantive work
product. The Staff Secretary makes sure the President sees memos and policy
papers produced by other offices in the White House. It’s an important job. It
requires someone who is smart, hardworking, and talented. But the documents
passing through Judge Kavanaugh’s office while he was Staff Secretary are not
particularly relevant to his legal thinking. It’s like saying the Senate Clerk—someone
who has a difficult and demanding job—is responsible for all the positions
taken by each of the Senate offices. It’s absurd.
Senate should focus its efforts on reviewing his tens of thousands of pages of
judicial opinions and other legal writings. Not only would a broad review of
Staff Secretary documents be a waste of time but also a waste of taxpayer
dollars. Moreover, Staff Secretary documents contain some of the most sensitive
information and advice that went directly to President Bush from a range of
in 2010, both Democrats and Republicans agreed that Justice Kagan shouldn’t
produce internal communications while she was Solicitor General because of
their sensitivity. If we’re going to talk about a “Kagan Standard,” then we
need to talk about taking sensitive communications off the table. That’s what
all sides agreed to in 2010 and what I’ll insist on now.
I appreciate the Minority Leader’s effort to ensure some transparency and
thoroughness. But let’s get down to brass tacks: I don’t think the Minority
Leader actually wants to read the millions of pages that crossed Judge
Kavanaugh’s desk in 2004. He’s said he’d fight this nomination with everything
he’s got. And this bloated document request is part of that fight. This is not about anything other than obstruction—to bury
us in millions and millions of pages of paper, so we cannot have a confirmation
vote on Judge Kavanaugh this year.
Liberal, dark-money outside groups want to drag this
confirmation out to the end of time. I won’t let them. This confirmation
process should focus on Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications, not become a
taxpayer-funded fishing expedition.