Coons set to join Carper in opposing SCOTUS pick

DOVER — U.S. Sen. Chris Coons has indicated he will join Delaware’s senior senator in voting against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Judge Kavanaugh, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was selected by President Trump in July to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh would shift the nation’s top court to the right.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which Sen. Coons sits on, is set to vote on sending the nomination to the full Senate Thursday.

Sen. Coons, a Democrat, has not explicitly said whether he plans to support the pick, but he has given plenty of indications he will oppose it like most Senate Democrats.

“I think it’s pretty clear that I have serious concerns about Judge Kavanaugh’s views, both on a number of key social issues … and I think it is clear as day what his views are on presidential power,” he said Friday.

Judge Kavanaugh, Sen. Coons said, has “said and written and decided cases in ways that make it perfectly clear he thinks a president can’t be held accountable through an investigation, that he can fire a special counsel at will.”

In addition to tipping the balance of the bench, the senator said he believes Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation would likely open the door for President Trump to fire Robert Mueller, who is leading an investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

Sen. Coons has also been critical of the way Republicans have conducted the confirmation process. He blasted them for withholding more than 100,000 pages of documents pertaining to Judge Kavanaugh, including emails sent and received by the judge when he was working for President George W. Bush.

Withholding documents “is antithetical to the way the judicial confirmation process is supposed to work” and is a “disservice to the United States Senate and to the American people,” he wrote on Twitter.

His senior colleague, Democratic Sen. Tom Carper, was quick to announce he would oppose the nomination.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme record over the last 12 years stands in stark contrast to what the majority of the American people want,” he said in a July statement released the day President Trump picked a nominee. “Overwhelmingly, the American people support protections for those living with pre-existing conditions.

Brett Kavanaugh

“They support women having the freedom to make their own health care decisions and the freedom for people to marry the person they love. They support the right to privacy and equal access to the voting booth. They support independent checks on executive power.

“I have yet to meet a Delawarean who doesn’t want to ensure that their family can breathe clean air and drink clean water. With the stakes so high and Americans’ stances on these critical issues so clear, I say without hesitation: bring on the fight.”

In 2016, Senate Republicans refused to move on the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, the chief circuit judge for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Noting a presidential election was imminent, the majority stonewalled the nomination after it was announced in March.

Sen. Carper said in a statement he “will never forget how Judge Garland was treated” and, in accordance with the standard set by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, won’t “move forward on any nominee to fill this lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court until the American people have had their say in November.”

Sen. Carper voted in 2006 to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to his current position. He was one of four Democrats to back the nomination to the Court of Appeals.

That decision has earned him criticism from some quarters, including primary challenger Kerri Evelyn Harris, whom Sen. Carper defeated earlier this month.

“I voted my hopes over my fears. I will not do that again,” Sen. Carper said at a debate last month.

Both senators opposed Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s first Supreme Court pick, who was confirmed 54-45 in April 2017.

 

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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