Democrats vow 'sparks will fly' over
Trump's Supreme Court pick
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[September 04, 2018]
By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate
Democrats plan to hammer President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee
Brett Kavanaugh over his views on abortion and presidential power in
hearings starting on Tuesday, but the conservative judge looks likely to
Trump's fellow Republicans hold narrow majority control of the Senate so
they can approve Kavanaugh if they stay united. So far, there were no
signs of defections, with the Senate likely to vote by the end of the
The hearing, expected to last four days, gives Democrats a chance to
make their case against Kavanaugh ahead of November's congressional
"There will be sparks at this hearing. Sparks will fly, and there will
be a lot of heat," Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of
the judiciary committee that will convene the hearings, said on Friday.
Trump nominated Kavanaugh, 53, to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who
announced his retirement on June 27 at age 81. He is Trump's second
nominee to a lifetime appointment to the nationís highest judicial body.
Trump last year appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, part of his push to make
the courts more conservative.
Liberals are concerned Kavanaugh could provide a decisive fifth vote on
the nine-justice court to overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade, the landmark
1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide.
Without Kennedy, the court is now split 4-4 between conservatives and
liberals. Kennedy was a solid conservative but sided with the court's
liberals on some issues, including abortion and gay rights.
Beyond social issues, Kavanaugh is also likely to face questions about
his views on investigating sitting presidents and the ongoing probe led
by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S.
presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the
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Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh pictured at his office
in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, U.S., July 11,
2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
Kavanaugh spent four years working for Kenneth Starr, the
independent counsel who investigated former Democratic President
Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Kavanaugh also spent more than five years
working for Republican President George W. Bush.
In 2009, many years after the Starr inquiry, Kavanaugh wrote a law
review article saying presidents should be free from the
distractions of civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions and
investigations while in office.
As a judge, he has amassed a solidly conservative record since 2006
on the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
With Senator John McCain's death, the Republican Senate majority
shrank to 50-49, but McCain's replacement is likely be seated before
a final vote on Kavanaugh, restoring the majority to 51-49 and
providing the votes needed for confirmation.
Liberal activists have pinned their slim hopes to block Kavanaugh on
two Republican senators who support abortion rights: Susan Collins
and Lisa Murkowski. So far, neither has indicated she is likely to
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and David
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