Delegation vows scrutiny, resistance of Trump's SCOTUS pick
Trump named Kavanaugh as his pick to fill the seat on the court that will be vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy later this month.
Kavanaugh, a Washington, D.C., native, is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a post he has held since 2006.
Before becoming a judge, he served as an aide in President George W. Bush's administration. He also worked on the probe of President Bill Clinton led by special counsel Kenneth Starr.
The nomination sets the high court up to swing to the conservative side. Trump's pick of Kavanaugh further escalated concerns among those who support the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade that the 1973 decision may be in jeopardy.
In remarks at the White House, Kavanaugh vowed to approach cases individually.
"I will keep an open mind in every case," he said.
Top congressional Republicans hailed Kavanaugh's selection. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called him a "superb choice." McConnell has promised a vote on the nomination this fall.
Meanwhile, Democrats, including members of Vermont's delegation, raised questions about Kavanaugh's record and his political leanings.
Democrats, who hold 49 seats in the Senate, have few procedural tools at their disposal to block the nomination from proceeding. But members of the minority promised intense scrutiny of the nominee, and called on the public to rally against him.
Leahy criticized Trump for "farming out" the nomination to conservative groups, who vetted candidates the president considered for the high court.
"The Constitution doesn't direct the President to nominate justices to the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation," Leahy said in a statement. "That is the role specified by the Constitution for the United States Senate."
Leahy, who voted against Kavanaugh during his contentious confirmation to the appeals court in 2006, raised questions about "how truthful" he was about his involvement in detention policies during his hearing. Vermont's other senator at the time, Jim Jeffords, also voted against Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh has taken "expansive view" of presidential power consistent with Trump's view of the courts "as a political branch," Leahy said.
"The heavy burden is now on Judge Kavanaugh to use his nomination hearing to be forthright with the American people," Leahy said.
In a video on Facebook, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called for the public to put pressure on Republican senators to encourage them to oppose Kavanaugh.
"We're in the fight of our lives here," Sanders said.
Sanders charged in a statement that Kavanaugh "will be a rubber-stamp for an extreme, right-wing agenda pushed by corporations and billionaires."
Sanders brought up Kavanaugh's rulings in high-profile cases, including one involving a migrant teen's right to an abortion and the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"I do not believe a person with those views should be given a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court," Sanders said.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who as a member of the House will not have an opportunity to vote on Kavanaugh, also critiqued Trump's consultation with outside groups on his list of candidates for the court.
Welch called for the Senate to reject Kavanaugh.
"If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh's elevation will cement a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court for a generation or more," Welch said. "At risk are long-established civil liberties and hard-won rights and opportunities for women, minorities, LGBTQ Americans, workers, and many others."
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