- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2018

Saying the country was burned by past nominees, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer insisted Monday that President Trump’s Supreme Court pick must detail his personal views on abortion in order to win confirmation.

Mr. Trump announced that he will nominate Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the court to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, kicking off what is expected to be the most bruising confirmation battle in three decades.

Republican leaders said they want to have Judge Kavanaugh on the high court by the beginning of October, when the court’s next session begins.

That means a speedy schedule of hearings, a vote in committee and then floor approval — all within 11 weeks.

But even before the vacancy, senators agreed to stay in session for most of August to work on other business, and given that seven of the past nine successful picks were confirmed within that timeline, Republicans were confident Monday that it can be done.

Democrats, meanwhile, are intent on derailing that schedule, hoping to push the fight into the elections and perhaps even into next year, when they hope to have retaken the Senate.

Until then, they are working to persuade key Republicans to defect, arguing that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a national right to abortion could be erased if Mr. Trump gets his way.

Mr. Schumer said lawmakers should reject vague assurances from Judge Kavanaugh and insist he detail his personal thoughts on abortion. He said the country was burned by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s first pick.

“At this critical juncture, with so many rights at stake, senators and the American people should expect an affirmative statement of support,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday.

Democrats have offered myriad reasons why they wouldn’t vote for anyone Mr. Trump nominated.

Party leaders initially said after Republicans refused to allow action on a nominee in 2016 ahead of the presidential election that a vote should be delayed this year until after the congressional elections.

But after Republicans pointed out that a number of nominees, including President Obama’s second pick, were confirmed in congressional election years, most Democrats searched for other objections.

Several said they were upset about the process Mr. Trump used, relying on a public list of potential names he developed during the 2016 campaign, with the help of conservative groups such as the Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation.

Republicans countered that the list made the process the most transparent in history, with the public knowing what to expect from a Trump pick — and electing him president on those promises.

Mr. Schumer, the man liberals are counting on to fight the pick, used the hours before Mr. Trump’s announcement to try to set a new standard any nominee must clear.

He said that while nominees in the past have been reluctant to give their views on issues that may come before them, senators must demand such disclosure in this case — and particularly on abortion.

He said general promises to respect precedent are no longer enough of a guarantee that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing a national right to abortion will survive.

Mr. Schumer said too many recent nominees have said they would respect precedent only to overturn past decisions once on the high court.

“When they say they’ll obey settled law, we can’t believe it,” Mr. Schumer said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who will oversee the confirmation process, said that was an unfair standard. He pointed instead to iconic liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who during her 1993 confirmation process refused to give any hints about her leanings, saying it would inappropriate.

“I expect any nominee to likewise follow the Ginsburg standard,” Mr. Grassley said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Democrats were searching for any reason to oppose Mr. Trump’s pick. He pointed to several who said they would vote against the nominee well before they knew who it was.

Mr. McConnell said the nominee will get full hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, then come to the Senate floor where he has already predicted approval.

“One more round of 40-year-old scare tactics will not stop us from doing the right thing,” Mr. McConnell said.

Over the past 18 months, the Senate majority leader has paved the way for speedy confirmation.

First, he triggered the “nuclear option” last year to curtail the power of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees.

This year, he announced that he was shortening the usual monthlong August vacation to just one week, saying the Senate needed more time to complete work on spending bills and presidential nominations. It turns out one of those nominations will be for the Supreme Court.

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