Politics

Sen. Paul Says He Will Confirm Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

Kentucky senator's announcement removes a significant potential obstacle to seating the president's nominee

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday announced he will support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, narrowing the Democrats’ already dwindling hopes of blocking the appointment.

Most Republican senators quickly backed Kavanaugh, currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Progressive activists have focused on the small number of Republicans who have thus far withheld their support.

Paul, who had expressed concerns about Kavanaugh’s views on executive power and the Fourth Amendment, was one of those senators. But Paul said he would support Kavanaugh after meeting with him last week.

“No one will ever completely agree with a nominee (unless, of course, you are the nominee),” Paul said in a statement. “Each nominee, however, must be judged on the totality of their views, character, and opinions.”

Paul acknowledged his concerns about the government’s collection of phone data without warrants and how that might apply to privacy cases. But he added that Kavanaugh has a strong record on “property rights and reining in the administrative state,” and also on the First and Second amendments.

“Of course, my vote is not a single-issue vote, and much of my reading and conversation has been in trying to figure out exactly how good Judge Kavanaugh will be on other issues before the court,” he stated.

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Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director at the pro-Kavanaugh Judicial Crisis Center, welcomed Paul’s announcement.

“We’re thrilled to see Sen. Paul support Judge Kavanaugh,” she told LifeZette. “But I have to say, I’m not surprised.”

With Paul now committed, attention shifts to a pair of moderate Republican senators who have not taken a position, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Both have expressed concern over the fate of the Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.

But Kavanaugh has made no public statements explicitly challenging the precedent, and neither senator has given Kavanaugh’s supporters cause for concern.

Several Democratic senators also are in the proverbial hot seat. The Judicial Crisis Network, which is spending millions of dollars supporting Kavanaugh, began airing ads last week in four Republican-leaning states with Democratic senators.

Related: Group Blasts Red State Dems with Pro-Kavanaugh Ads

One of those senators, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, is scheduled to meet with Kavanaugh later on Monday. He will be the first Democrat to do so.

Manchin faces a potentially tough re-election fight against state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in a state that President Donald Trump won by 43 percentage points.

Severino said Manchin and other red state Democrats will have hard choices.

“The thing that really creates pressure for those senators is that their citizens support Judge Kavanaugh,” she said.

Senate Republican leaders have said they want to confirm Kavanaugh by October, which would require hearings to begin sometime in September.

(photo credit, homepage and article image: Rand Paul, CC BY-SA 3.0, Flipped/Collage, Gage Skidmore)

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