President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will spend the next few days getting pounded by Senate Democrats worried he’s about to roll back access to abortion, block gun control, and blow up affirmative action programs across the country.
So on Tuesday, he tried to get them to calm down.
Presenting himself as open-minded on every case before it’s heard in opening remarks at his Senate confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh stressed his concern for women, minorities, young people, and the poor. He offered high praise for Judge Merrick Garland, whose Supreme Court nomination by former President Barack Obama was notoriously blocked by Republicans.
And he spent a lot of time talking about his mother, a judge and former teacher at a majority African-American high school in Washington, D.C., McKinley Tech, and about his daughters’ sports teams.
Above all, he promised not to let politics get in the way of his decisions.
“The Supreme Court must never be viewed as a partisan institution,” he said. “The justices on the Supreme Court do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle.”
Not that Democrats believed him.
Sen.Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California, had just slammed Kavanaugh for his views on gun control, saying: “I’m left with the fact that your reasoning is far outside the mainstream of legal thought.”
And she worried about Kavanaugh’s position on abortion despite his earlier assurance that Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision underlying its legality in the U.S., is “settled law.”
“The question is whether you believe it’s correct law,” she remarked with ice in her voice.
KAVANAUGH: I <3 WOMEN
Kavanaugh didn’t speak out specifically on abortion during his opening statement Thursday, but he did go out of his way to express support for Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.
He said he’d seen Title IX’s benefits in his daughters’ athletic programs.
“Title IX helped make girls’ and women’s sports equal,” Kavanaugh told the senators. “I see that law’s legacy every night when I walk into my house as my daughters are getting back from lacrosse, or basketball, or hockey practice.”
He then went on to name, individually, all nine girls on his daughter’s sixth-grade basketball team.
“All the girls I have coached are awesome,” he said.
He went on to paint himself as a friend to the poor, who tutors at a Jesuit school for boys from low-income families and volunteers serving meals to the homeless at a Catholic charity in Washington DC.
Then he pivoted to a well-worn metaphor: the judge as an umpire, impartially overseeing the political game without favoring one team over the other.
“A good judge must be an umpire — a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy,” he said. “I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences.”
Although he’d just spent some seven hours watching senators romp through a partisan food-fight about his professional future, he praised their selfless dedication.
“Every Senator is devoted to public service and the public good,” he said. “I thank all the Senators for their time and their thoughts.”
Just as he was speaking those words, however, the president who nominated him in July piped up with a different message entirely.
Right in the middle of Kavanaugh’s attempt to reach out to Democrats and their constituents, Trump hate-tweeted at them. He called them “mean, angry, and despicable.”
Cover: Judge Brett Kavanaugh delivers his opening statement during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)