98°F
weather icon Clear

Nevada senators take different approaches to Supreme Court pick

WASHINGTON — While Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada announced “without reservation” his support for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, said she wants a thorough review of past rulings, opinions and writings.

On their face, the different approaches taken by the two Silver State lawmakers underscore their allegiance to their respective parties and ideologies.

Last year, Heller voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the court. Cortez Masto voted against confirmation.

With the opening created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, both want a qualified jurist appointed to the high court. Heller said he wants a conservative jurist.

Cortez Masto said in an interview with the Review-Journal: “I want somebody who is going to be a check and balance on the executive branch and the congressional branch.”

Cortez Masto said she also wants to see if Kavanaugh is someone who “is looking out for the best interests of all Americans, not just special interests and the powerful.”

The Nevada Democrat has asked for a sit-down, one-on-one meeting with Kavanaugh, a judge on the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia who was picked by President Donald Trump to fill Kennedy’s seat.

Kennedy was a swing vote on the nine-member Supreme Court, voting with conservatives to settle the 2000 presidential election — handing the White House to George W. Bush — but also siding with the liberal wing on gay marriage and Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

Heller: ‘No reservations’

Heller met with Kavanaugh earlier this month. Following the meeting, Heller said the nominee was one who would uphold the Constitution, respect precedent and not be an activist judge.

“I have no reservations in confidently supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” Heller said.

Cortez Masto has yet to meet with Kavanaugh. She wants to ask him about past rulings and positions on issues that include reproductive rights, health care, organized labor, net neutrality and the Citizens United decision that resulted in large amounts of corporate donations into elections through political action committees.

Cortez Masto also wants to review his background, legal writings and other documents about his service in the White House under Bush, and his work for special counsel Kenneth Starr, whose Whitewater investigation led to the House impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is pressing Senate GOP leaders to make available Kavanaugh documents from the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and other work products, before a confirmation hearing is held.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he wants a confirmation hearing and a vote on the nominee before the Supreme Court returns to the bench Oct. 1.

Republican leaders have charged that Democrats are trying to delay the confirmation process with a “fishing expedition,” seeking documents that are irrelevant to his Supreme Court nomination.

That charge has been countered by Democrats who argue that Republicans received documents pertaining to Elena Kagan’s work in the White House from the Bill Clinton Presidential Library when the Senate considered her nomination to the Supreme Court.

“We should have as much information as we can,” Cortez Masto said, noting that a Supreme Court justice is a lifetime position. “For that reason we should have the opportunity to take our time and understand his background and understand his position on issues.”

Separate nomination withdrawn

Democrats were invigorated in their fight for Kavanaugh documents when the White House withdrew the nomination of Ryan Bounds for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month.

The nomination was pulled over Bounds’ controversial writings on multiculturalism while a student at Stanford University. Those writings were discovered after his nomination.

Democrats are correct in carrying out a thorough examination of Kavanaugh, said Carl Tobias with the University of Richmond School of Law.

“You have to put the nominee through his paces — that’s why they want as many documents as possible — and ask him questions in a hearing and see what he says,” Tobias said.

Kavanaugh’s role in the White House following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which led to the torture memos and the administration’s approval of controversial surveillance measures, could be relevant to the confirmation process, Tobias said.

Last year, Gorsuch was a conservative selected to fill the seat left vacant when Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative, died unexpectedly in 2016 in Texas. The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm.

The Kennedy retirement and Kavanaugh’s nomination could throw the balance of the court to the right for decades to come. The nominee was selected from a list compiled by the Federalist Society of anti-abortion judges that Trump vowed to pick from to fill Supreme Court vacancies.

“More is at stake,” Tobias said. “Everybody knows that Kennedy was a decisive vote on issues that were important to a lot of people, and that’s likely to be true of Kavanaugh as well.

“Kavanaugh is more conservative on a lot of issues than Kennedy was, so that’s why there is so much at stake.”

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
House committee OKs bill by Titus for airport signs

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a bill by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., Wednesday to translate airport signs into multiple languages to assist tourists and others who don’t speak English.