WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continued meeting with U.S. senators Thursday, which included speaking to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Kavanaugh Monday. Kavanaugh currently serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and previously worked under Ken Starr and in President George W. Bush’s administration. He would succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring at the end of July.
“We talked about his judicial philosophy, his commitment to the rule of law and to the text and history of the Constitution. Beyond his judicial philosophy, we talked about what kind of person he is,” Capito said. “I think he is an excellent choice by the president.”
Capito, who attended Monday’s announcement ceremony, said Kavanaugh emphasized his originalist view of the U.S. Constitution and what the Founding Fathers were thinking when they drafted the document.
“He basically reconfirmed to me that the Constitution is basically his guiding principle. That the text of the Constitution is extremely important in deciding cases, even though the Constitution was written over 200 years ago,” she said.
Capito also said Kavanaugh talked about meeting late U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., before being confirmed to his current judicial position. In a lecture hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation, Kavanaugh said Byrd stressed to him the importance of the powers listed in the Constitution.
“Senator Byrd pulled out his Constitution and Judge Kavanaugh pulled out his Constitution,” Capito said Thursday.
“Senator Byrd said, ‘You’re never going to forget this meeting.’ [Kavanaugh] said, ‘You know, I never have.'”
Byrd voted to confirm Kavanaugh to the Court of Appeals, one of four Democratic senators to do so. The only current sitting Democratic senator to vote for confirmation, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, said Monday he is against confirming Kavanaugh.
“The Senate must hold Judge Kavanaugh accountable for his deeply concerning record over the past 12 years on the bench,” Carper said. “In the years that Judge Kavanaugh has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, he has revealed his true colors, and his substantial record over that time period has proven to be a profound disappointment.”
Republicans control the Senate with a 51-49 majority. Capito said Kavanaugh is aware the road to confirmation is not easy.
“There’s been some pre-judging — which is unfortunate — before people get to meet him,” she said. “He’s a very strong person and he knows he’s going to have a rough ride, but he seems very firm in his convictions.”
“I expect him to be confirmed, but I don’t expect it to be without a few bumps,” she added.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” he plans on having two meetings with Kavanaugh; one meeting before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and a second meeting after the committee hearing.
Manchin said Kavanaugh has “all the right qualities,” but the senator is concerned about the judge’s view of former President Barack Obama’s health care law. According to Manchin, 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions could lose their health insurance if the law is ruled unconstitutional.
West Virginia and 19 other states are suing the federal government to have the law scrapped because lawmakers ended the individual mandate as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and 25 Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to Senate leaders Thursday urging the confirmation of Kavanaugh.
“For too long we have suffered the ill effects of federal overreach as all three branches have at times exceeded the constitutional limits on their authority,” the attorneys general said. “Judge Kavanaugh will help reverse that trend by reviewing challenged laws and regulations with an eye to ensuring that all branches of our government act within their constitutionally assigned roles — regardless of which party is in power.”
Morrisey, the Republican nominee for Senate, said Tuesday he expects Manchin to vote to confirm Kavanaugh because of election pressure.
“Joe Manchin knows that while he will ultimately vote for Kavanaugh, he is going to be in a very difficult position with (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer and his liberal donors,” Morrisey said. “He’s going to want to appease them on issues related to abortion, on gun control, on other matters.”
Judicial Crisis Network began a $1.4 million campaign this week urging senators in Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia to confirm Kavanaugh. Americans for Prosperity, funded by Charles and David Koch, announced Monday a seven-figure campaign across 10 states — including West Virginia — urging confirmation.
Liberal organization Demand Justice said it will launch a $5 million campaign urging a vote against Kavanaugh, with efforts aimed at three red-state Democrats — Manchin, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp — as well as Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Manchin, Donnelly and Heitkamp were the only Democrats who voted last year to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.