Now that Senate Democrats scored a surprise win in the withdrawal of Ryan Bounds just before a confirmation vote, they want to use the same strategy against Brett Kavanaugh. They have stepped up demands for Kavanaugh’s writings going all the way back to his work in the Bush administration after succeeding in torpedoing Bounds over some undergraduate essays for which he later apologized. This strategy would force the Senate to go much slower on Kavanaugh while Chuck Schumer and his allies pore through over a million pages of documents looking for anything useful to highlight as a means of peeling off one or more Republicans:
Senate Democrats, who have so far declined to sit down with Kavanaugh for courtesy meetings until the two parties reach a deal on documents, immediately pounced on the failure of Bounds’s nomination over his writings to argue that the Supreme Court nominee needs to produce all of his paperwork.
Kavanaugh worked for five years in the George W. Bush White House, including as staff secretary, which made him the conduit for all paperwork that went through the administration.
“A lower-court nominee’s college writings are relevant, but a Supreme Court nominee’s White House writings aren’t?” asked Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) “I don’t think so.”
That’s nonsense for a couple of reasons. Bounds’ undergrad writings as a teenager shouldn’t have been relevant in the first place. If we are to judge all potential nominees by what they wrote as college freshmen, we’d never move anyone out of committee.
Second, Senate Democrats have already had a bite at this particular apple. They threw the kitchen sink against Kavanaugh in 2006, including his work in the Bush administration, which at the time was his most recent work. All of that has been asked and answered, and Kavanaugh got confirmed in a 57-36 vote — after Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer stalled the nomination for three years. They’ve had a lot of time to go through Kavanaugh’s Bush-era record already.
So far, Chuck Grassley’s not taking the bait. Yesterday he announced that, regardless of document requests, Kavanaugh’s nomination will be handled in 70 days or less, putting a final confirmation vote in late September. However, Mitch McConnell warned that if Schumer & Co continue with their obstructive requests, he might extend the time to suit his own purposes:
Mitch McConnell has a warning for Democrats demanding copious documents on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: Be careful what you wish for.
The Senate majority leader privately told senior Republicans on Wednesday that if Democrats keep pushing for access to upwards of a million pages in records from President Donald Trump’s high court pick, he’s prepared to let Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote slip until just before November’s midterm elections, according to multiple sources.
Delaying the vote past September would serve a dual purpose for McConnell, keeping vulnerable red-state Democrats off the campaign trail while potentially forcing anti-Kavanaugh liberals to swallow a demoralizing defeat just ahead of the midterms. Senators said McConnell believes the Democratic base will be “deflated” if they raise hopes of defeating Kavanaugh only to lose just days before the election.
Democrats have no intention of backing down in their call for maximum transparency about Kavanaugh’s record, but the GOP is betting that they’ll start to sweat the Supreme Court timeline as the summer wears on.
Why would they sweat it? It’s simple math — 26 is greater than 9. That’s how many Senate seats Democrats and Republicans are defending in the midterms, respectively. If they have to sit around Washington in October, that’s how many incumbents won’t be home campaigning to save their seats. On top of that, the closer Kavanaugh’s confirmation gets to the midterm elections because of Democratic obstruction, the more motivated Trump supporters will be to punish Democrats at the ballot.
Red-state Senate Democrats already face a tough enough time getting re-elected in places like Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Florida. Absence will not make voters’ hearts fonder in those states that Trump won, and in the end Kavanaugh’s going to get confirmed anyway. Best to get it over with in September, and spend October dancing around their support for the knee-jerk obstructionism of Schumer, the architect of the strategy that left their caucus without any influence at all on Supreme Court nominees.