WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement opposing the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
“The consequences of a single Supreme Court nomination have never been greater in my lifetime. The next Supreme Court Justice will help shape the future of this country for decades, from playing a pivotal role in defining the scope of the President’s power and determining whether the President is above the law, to impacting essential rights enshrined in our Constitution. At stake are the right to privacy, including rights to marriage and contraception, religious liberty and the freedom to worship as we choose, the ability to participate in our democracy as full and equal citizens, and the promise of equal protection under the law.
“After reviewing the portion of Judge Kavanaugh’s long record of public service that is available to us, meeting with him privately, participating in a robust four-day hearing, submitting detailed written questions, and hearing from thousands of Delawareans, I have concluded that Judge Kavanaugh holds views on several critical issues that are well outside the mainstream of American constitutional jurisprudence. I have profound concerns about Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme positions, and I have decided to vote against his nomination.
“Supreme Court decisions impact real people and have real consequences. I am concerned that Judge Kavanaugh’s interpretation of the Constitution would roll back the clock to a time when we recognized the autonomy and worth of too few of our fellow citizens. This is not only inconsistent with precedent of the Supreme Court on reproductive choice, affirmative action, and LGBT rights, it is at odds with the aspirations for individual liberty that our Constitution was created to advance.
“Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly and enthusiastically embraced an interpretation of executive power that is outside the judicial mainstream. In the hearing, I asked Judge Kavanaugh why he has repeatedly criticized Morrison v. Olson, a 30-year-old precedent holding that Congress can create an independent counsel with authority to investigate the President. I asked him if he still believes what he said in 1998, that a President can fire at will a special counsel criminally investigating him. Judge Kavanaugh refused to answer my questions directly or meaningfully. Given ample opportunity to respond in writing, Judge Kavanaugh said he ‘ha[d] nothing to add’ and refused to state whether a President has to comply with a grand jury subpoena. I am concerned that Judge Kavanaugh holds a sweeping view of executive power that would allow the President to fire a special counsel who is investigating him simply for doing his job. I believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s view puts this President, or any President, above the law. That should concern every American.
“I am also concerned that Judge Kavanaugh has a demonstrated pattern of viewing regulations as limitations on the liberty of corporations, rather than reforms that can enhance our collective freedom. This view would undercut our ability to protect our environment, promote fairness in campaign finance, safeguard consumers, and promote access to healthcare, which would impact millions of Americans.
“I am further troubled by inconsistencies between Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony and his record. Such inconsistencies are all the more concerning given that there has been an unprecedented confirmation process for this nominee, in which Congress, and most importantly, the American people were blocked from viewing the vast majority of Judge Kavanaugh’s record. Instead of a bipartisan process to fully vet the nominee and then allow Senators to vote their conscience, we have seen an effort to rush through a nominee while concealing the facts.
“Our Supreme Court must be a constitutional bulwark against violations of law, deprivations of freedom, and abuses of power. I do not believe Judge Kavanaugh will provide that critical check.”
Earlier today, Senator Coons called on the Judiciary Committee to delay Thursday’s scheduled vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination in light of the sexual assault allegations against him.