September 4, 2018

Kavanaugh Hearings Day One: Documents, Protests, and Democracy


During the Kavanaugh hearings, ACS will be publishing daily takeaways of key moments. For real-time coverage, follow our Twitter feed

What are today’s key takeaways?

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee began hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to fill one of the most consequential Supreme Court vacancies in a generation. Kavanaugh’s nomination process also has the distinction of being one of the least transparent in Supreme Court history.

Documents: The Democrats have been blocked from reviewing key documents from Kavanaugh’s career and the issue rightly dominated the morning session of the hearing, as Senate Democrats on the committee requested that the majority hit the pause button.

Adding to Democrats’ frustration, just last night more than 40,000 documents were released by President George W. Bush’s lawyer covering Kavanaugh’s time in the White House counsel’s office.

"This is not an attempt to delay, it's an attempt to do our constitutional duty," argued Senator Cory Booker when requesting that the hearing give members time to review the documents. Senators Durbin and Blumenthal pointedly asked Kavanaugh to himself request a delay in the hearing.

The nomination process has been so secretive and rushed that Senator Richard Blumenthal told Kavanaugh today: “If you are confirmed after this truncated and concealed process, there will always be a taint. There will always be an asterisk after your name, appointed by a president named as an unindicted co-conspirator after the vast request for documents in the most constructive period of his life were concealed. And the question is always going to be: Why was all of that material concealed?”

Protests: Throughout the day, citizens made their concerns about Kavanaugh’s extreme record known. In addition to people shouting during the hearing itself, vigils outside, attended by our own Caroline Fredrickson , drew attention to the rights and protections that hang in the balance of the Supreme Court nomination. People wearing “I am what’s at stake” t-shirts described critical legal protections that Kavanaugh’s nomination puts at risk.

Democracy: Overall, the day was a mixed bag for our democracy: Positive because these televised hearings shine a light on the importance of the courts in our daily lives. But negative because senators were unable to persuade the majority party to conduct the hearings in an open manner that allows the Senate to fully perform its duty to advise and consent on judicial nominations.

What should people be looking for in the following days?

In the coming days, these are the lines of questioning that ACS will be watching for as the hearings unfold: settled law, precedent, diversity, and constitutional interpretation. For details on each issue, read Caroline Fredrickson’s preview: Shell Game: Expect Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee Kavanaugh to Duck and Dodge Key Questions During Confirmation Hearings

Visit our Supreme Court Vacancy Toolkit for more resources.

Confirmation Process, Importance of the Courts, Judicial Nominations, Nominees, Supreme Court