WASHINGTON — Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will begin the day after Labor Day, Republicans announced Friday over Democratic objections that they are rushing the process without properly delving into his background.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes to have President Donald Trump’s nominee confirmed to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy before the new court session begins Oct. 1. The Judiciary Committee will hold up to four days of review, with Kavanaugh to face questions on Day 2, Sept. 5, said, committee chairman Chuck Grassley.
Kavanaugh’s appearance will be followed by legal experts and people who know the judge.
The White House, which is determined to have Kavanaugh confirmed before the November elections, applauded the schedule announcement. But Democrats want access to more documents from Kavanaugh’s past as a judge and as an official in the George W. Bush administration.
Grassley said there’s “plenty of time” to review documents but now it’s time for Americans “to hear directly” from Kavanaugh.
“He’s a mainstream judge,” Grassley said. “He has a record of judicial independence and applying the law as it is written.”
So far, the committee has made public Kavanaugh’s 17,000-page questionnaire and his more than 300 court cases as an appellate judge. The panel has additionally received 184,000 pages from his work for President Bush in the White House counsel’s office and on independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton. However, most of those records are being held on a “committee confidential” basis, with just 5,700 pages released this week to the public.
Democrats say the Republicans are relying on the cherry-picked files being released by Bush’s lawyer, Bill Burck, who is compiling and vetting the documents, rather than the traditional process conducted by the National Archives and Records Administration.
The Archives has said its review of some 1 million pages of Kavanaugh records the committee requested will not be available until the end of October.
Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, said it’s “jaw-dropping” that Grassley would hold the confirmation hearings before the documents are fully released.
“It means that the chairman is telling the American people that this hearing is barreling forward, no matter what, no matter how little information is available to the Senate and public or how many shortcuts the committee has to take,” she said.
The White House on Friday welcomed the news of a set date for confirmation hearings.
“With the Senate already reviewing more documents than for any other Supreme Court nominee in history, Chairman Grassley has lived up to his promise to lead an open, transparent and fair process,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah. “Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to addressing the Judiciary Committee in public hearings for the American people to view.”
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.