Vote set on Trump’s Supreme Court nomineee Kavanaugh

The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on September 20 (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: Senate Republicans beat back Democrats’ protests Thursday and set a September 20 committee vote for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who could tilt the high court solidly conservative for years to come.

Kavanaugh’s late Wednesday submission of a 263-page file failed to clear up questions Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee had about his legal views and personal finances, and they continued to demand more documentation on his record.

But Republican committee chairman Chuck Grassley ignored their protests and set the final vote in one week.

“I don’t understand the rush to judgement,” said senior Democrat Diane Feinstein.

“What we should do is slow down, get the record” of his White House work in the early 2000s, including his views on the legality of torture, she said.

“He will be in a pivotal seat in a closely divided court.”

Kavanaugh, a 53-year-old conservative jurist, was tapped by Trump for a lifetime appointment to succeed retired justice Anthony Kennedy, who was often the swing vote between conservatives and progressives on the nine-justice Supreme Court.

Republicans hope that pushing through approval in advance of the November 6 congressional elections would avoid the risk of Democrats seizing control of Congress and gaining the ability to defeat the nomination.

Last week Kavanaugh underwent four days of gruelling hearings on his nomination, with Democrats probing especially his views on abortion and presidential privileges.

Liberals fear he could over time prove the key vote in an effort to restrict abortion rights.

They also fear that if Trump’s legal woes in the Russia collusion investigation end up in the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh’s views of presidential immunity could protect him.

The Judiciary Committee, which has a one-person Republican majority, is expected to vote to approve Kavanaugh. After that the entire Senate, in which Republicans also have a narrow majority, will hold a final vote on the nomination.