While left-leaning activists and Democratic politicians continue to decry Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, some Democrat senators are quietly meeting with him in private.
While the move does not guarantee bipartisan support for the judge’s nomination, it does indicate that the party is realizing that there really is no way they can prevent the nomination from going through. It also highlights an ongoing divide between those who want Democrats to move further left and do whatever it takes to stop President Trump, and pragmatic Democratic holdovers.
Senators Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp have all met with Brett Kavanaugh, which is not surprising considering the fact that all four of these senators are facing difficult re-election battles this year in states where President Trump handily won the majority of the vote. However, what is noteworthy is the fact that these senators seem eager to keep their meetings off the public record. While the senators’ offices have not given a reason for the lack of media notification, it is worth noting that Democratic activists have spent millions of dollars in advertisements in these senators’ home states in an attempt to pressure them to reject Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Even so, these senators seemed inclined to give Judge Kavanaugh a fair hearing, and have emphasized in press statements that their conversations with the potential Supreme Court Justice covered subjects ranging from Indian law to health care. They have also made it clear that they will not make a final decision on supporting Judge Kavanaugh until after the confirmation hearings.
At the same time, vulnerable moderate Democratic senators aren’t the only ones who are meeting with Judge Kavanaugh. Sen. Dianne Feinstein met with Judge Kavanaugh on Monday, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with him on Tuesday. While the results of both meetings are unknown, Sen. Schumer made it clear ahead of time that he intended to ask Judge Kavanaugh to publicly request the release of documents related to the three years he spent working as staff secretary for former President George W. Bush. While Republicans say these documents aren’t related to the Supreme Court nomination, say that failure to release them is a threat to the transparency of the nomination process.
Other Democrat senators who intend to meet with Judge Kavanaugh in the near future include members of the Judiciary Committee such as Amy Klobuchar, Sheldon Whitehouse and Patrick Leahy. Like Sen. Schumer, these senators are likely to focus on the portions of Judge Kavanaugh’s records pertaining to his service in the Bush White House.
In the run-up to the hearings, the judge is meeting with as many members of the Senate as possible to explain his record as well as articulate his positions on important matters. This is not unusual, as Supreme Court nominees have conversed with senators in advance of the hearings. What is newsworthy in this instance is that Democrat members of Senate who have already come out opposing Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination are now willing to sit down and talk with him.
Even Sen. Schumer, who Democrat activists are hoping will unite the Democrat party in opposition to the Supreme Court nominee, has spoken with Judge Kavanaugh in person. While the discussions have not provided much indication on how these Senators will vote after the confirmation hearings have been held, they do make it clear that the Democrat party is not likely to shut down the Senate or engage in some other disruptive activity to keep Judge Kavanaugh from making it to the Supreme Court. Naturally, the issue is still a hot-button topic in the mid-term elections, but the actual odds of Judge Kavanaugh failing to make it through the confirmations hearings are slim. In fact, some Democratic senators may even wind up voting for him just as they voted for Justice Gorsuch a year ago.
Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings are set to begin on September 4.
~ Conservative Zone