- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Democrats yesterday interrogated President Bush’s latest judicial nominee, whom they have threatened for weeks to filibuster.

White House lawyer Brett M. Kavanaugh, nominated almost three years ago to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, fielded questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee for the second time in a tense exchange.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, demanded to know whether White House political adviser Karl Rove has been involved in the selection of judicial nominees, how the nominee would have voted in the impeachment trial of President Clinton and whether he thinks Roe v. Wade is an abomination.

Mr. Kavanaugh declined to answer the first two questions and said he would follow abortion laws as they stand.

“I don’t think you’ve clarified any of the questions,” Mr. Schumer replied.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, expressed concern over Mr. Kavanaugh’s record.

“Much of his public service has been in the current Bush White House, where his duties included recommending some of the president’s most bitterly divisive judicial nominees,” Mr. Kennedy said. “His best-known work before the White House was investigating the death of Vincent Foster during the Clinton years and drafting portions of the infamous Starr report.”

After more than three hours of questioning, Democrats appeared unanimously opposed to the nomination and Republicans appeared unanimously in favor. A party-line vote, expected as early as tomorrow, would move the nomination to the full Senate for a vote.

“We need more qualified nominees on the bench who practice judicial restraint and respect the rule of law, and Brett Kavanaugh fits that description,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, said after the hearing.

Mr. Frist said he looks forward to bringing the nomination to the Senate floor, where “we can give him the fair, up-or-down vote he’s been waiting on for three years.”

Democrats noted during the hearing that the American Bar Association (ABA) had lowered Mr. Kavanaugh’s rating, though he remains unanimously qualified for the position.

Some Republicans dismissed the ABA for its liberal leanings, especially since D.C. divorce lawyer Marna S. Tucker, who helped conduct the most recent evaluation, has a long history with Democratic politicians and liberal organizations.

Democrats defended Miss Tucker, noting that she has testified on behalf of Samuel A. Alito Jr., now a Supreme Court justice appointed by Mr. Bush.

Some hope of avoiding a filibuster emerged late yesterday.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and a member of the informal group of 14 senators who brokered a deal last year to end filibusters on judicial nominees, thanked Mr. Kavanaugh for appearing before the committee a second time.

“I look forward to voting for you,” he said.

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