Feinstein Speaks on Supreme Court Nomination during Senate Judiciary Committee

Washington July 12, 2018 – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today delivered opening remarks on the Supreme Court nomination:

“On Monday night, we all know the president announced his choice for this vacancy. What’s unusual is this was just two weeks after we’d learned Justice Kennedy was set to retire.

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Now here’s why it’s unusual. Historically, that process takes at least a month, and at times it has taken several months. What this suggests is that the selection of Judge Kavanaugh was pre-ordained and the usual vetting, which accompanies a nomination, perhaps was not done adequately.

In fact, it was reported yesterday that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein sent out an email to all 93 U.S. Attorney’s offices asking that each office provide up to three prosecutors to assist with reviewing Judge Kavanaugh’s record. Reports indicate the Department expects to employ at least 100 full time lawyers to review over a million pages. That’s unusual, at the very least.

This is going to be my 10th Supreme Court [nomination] and I have never seen this amount of documentation that will need to be available for review for both sides. While I understand the Justice Department will not be sharing its analysis of the documents, certainly all of what it is reviewing should be made available to both sides for our review.

We know that Mr. Kavanaugh served as a Republican political operative, working on the Ken Starr investigation and the election recount of Bush v. Gore. He also served as a top official in the White House for five years, working in the White House Counsel’s office and as Staff Secretary.

Judge Kavanaugh was in the White House a time when the Bush administration considered many controversial policies and made decisions, including warrantless spying, use of signing statements, military tribunals, torture and the rendition of prisoners to other countries.

When Judge Kavanaugh was first nominated to the D.C. Circuit, many of us questioned whether he could be an independent check on the president, given his involvement with the president’s use of 750 signing statements to try to reserve the power to decide what laws passed by Congress he would enforce.

I’m also concerned about his involvement in the Bush administration’s policies on detention and interrogation. Given Kavanaugh’s extensive record and questions about his role in the Bush White House, this committee needs to obtain documents from many sources, including, the Bush Presidential Library and the National Archives.

As has been done previously, I would hope these would be bipartisan requests. Let me give you an example, with Justice Kagan, who also had a background working in the White House, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, as well as the Obama White House, joined to make bipartisan requests for an expedited production of all of Justice Kagan’s White House documents from the Clinton Library.

In fact, the committee received 170,000 pages of documents, including all of Kagan’s emails. Nearly all of these documents were made public and available online. And, there were no claims of executive privilege.

Given this is a lifetime appointment to the most powerful court in our country, the same care and diligence should be performed in securing the information from Judge Kavanaugh’s record. All senators, every single one of us, ought to be able to fully and properly review the nominee’s record so they are totally informed.

Mr. Chairman, I know our staffs have begun discussions and I look forward to working with you to get the questionnaire out to the nominee as well as requests for documents out to the Bush Presidential Library, the National Archives, and others.

Finally, with respect to Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination, I would like to quote a column from this morning’s Washington Post that I believe eloquently sums up the questions and concerns many of us on this side of the aisle have. This is EJ Dionne’s column, a part of it.

‘Everything we know about Kavanaugh demonstrates that he would cement a right-wing majority on the court on social issues as well as regulatory and economic questions. (That’s why he was picked.) The environment, gun safety and health care are all at stake. So are civil, voting and labor rights. Kavanaugh may be as lovely a human being as Garland is, but he would behave very differently as a justice. That’s the point.

‘Progressives are told they should get over the shameful treatment of Garland. What an astonishing exercise in hypocrisy from conservatives who have been reliving the defeat of Robert H. Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court for 31 years. And unlike Garland, Bork got a hearing and a vote.’ I ask unanimous consent to put the full column in the record.

As to the agenda for today’s markup, I would just like to say, I very much regret blue slip treatment of Senator Casey. I’ve spoken with him. He is very concerned. Our side is very concerned. And the fact that we will be voting on Mr. Porter, we must all remember, what goes around comes around. And I do not believe it is in the best interest collegiality or fostering a meaningful consultative process between the White House and the Senate to ignore home-state senators views and move through nominees against their recommendations.”