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Judicial Crisis Network Supports Kavanaugh's Supreme Court Nomination


Day 2 of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could be intense if the opening day was any indication.


RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn.

CHUCK GRASSLEY: The American people get to hear...

BLUMENTHAL: Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.

GRASSLEY: ...Directly from Judge Kavanaugh...


MARTIN: That's the voice of Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, one of several Democrats who tried to postpone the hearings yesterday. They were unsuccessful. Protesters interrupted multiple times. Carrie Severino was there in the hearing room watching it all unfold. She is chief counsel and policy director for the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which has campaigned in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation. She's with us in the studio.

Carrie, thanks for being back on the show.

CARRIE SEVERINO: Great to be here.

MARTIN: So Democrats - part of their argument in the morning session yesterday was that they can't properly vet Kavanaugh because they haven't been given the proper documents about his background, in particular the years he spent working in the George W. Bush White House. What is your understanding of why those documents weren't released?

SEVERINO: Well, they're really moving the goalposts. We have his documents from his time in the White House counsel's office. That's the documents that - for example, with Elena Kagan - were produced, but they've decided we need also documents from his non-legal job as staff secretary, as well as - and literally any document that even mentions his name in the White House. That is a wildly unreasonable request. They're really just trying to delay the hearing because they know that once people hear from Judge Kavanaugh, he's such a articulate, thoughtful judge. His record, really, on his dozen years on the D.C. Circuit speaks for itself. He's got 300 opinions. That is the best indicator of how he's going to rule as a judge, not going on some fishing expedition to try to delay things. So once they hear from the judge themselves, I think that's what they're trying to avoid with this.

MARTIN: Although they're making the argument that even as staff secretary, he's not just moving paper from point A to point B, that there would be something in there that could be reflective of his views, and that this is a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, and they should have all the information possible to make that determination.

SEVERINO: Sure. You can always - there's always more information you can have, but from their perspective, I think he's guilty until proven innocent. If you had - we have almost half a million documents now. That's more than the last five nominees combined. If you had another half million, they still wouldn't be satisfied. With Elena Kagan, there was a lot of work that she did, for example, in the solicitor general's office - very indicative of her approach as a judge. But because it's so sensitive, they didn't request those documents, the Republicans back then. I think maybe we were in a more open-minded and reaching-across-the-aisle time. The Democrats are not doing that here. They're trying to amp up the number of documents to the highest possible level. They know those are unreasonable demands because they don't want to face Judge Kavanaugh's actual sterling record. It's why we have such bipartisan support from actual people who've practiced before him, not Democratic senators, of course, but the actual litigators who would know him best.

MARTIN: Well, it's not just about process. Democrats have real questions about substance, as well. We're likely to see some of those questions today. But even in opening statements, there were questions raised in particular about how this nominee pursues, or perceives rather, the limits of executive power. This is an exceptional time, an unprecedented hearing, in that the president who tapped this nominee to sit on the court is central to a federal investigation about collusion and obstruction. Are you convinced that you understand Brett Kavanaugh's views of executive power?

SEVERINO: Well, first of all, I'll point out that's not unprecedented. Four of the current eight members of the Supreme Court, and one more if you add Kennedy, were appointed by presidents who were under investigation at the time. This is not unusual. The president doesn't lose their right to nominate a judge. But I think Kavanaugh actually is the perfect person to be in this position at this point. And I think if Democrats looked at his actual record, they should be pleased with what they saw because he is someone who actually is very committed to stepping back from the political process in his judging more than almost any judge I know. When he became a federal judge, he said I'm actually not going to even vote in presidential elections now because I don't want to feel like I'm part of the team. He takes very seriously his job to look at each case on the law and on the facts and not bring the politics in.

MARTIN: Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network, thanks so much for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

SEVERINO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.