Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley announced Friday that Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings will begin Sept. 4, and last for three to four days, according to Politico. Senate Republicans have been eager to push through Kavanaugh’s confirmation process in time for his nomination to be confirmed by the start of the next Supreme Court term on the first Monday in October.
In a statement to Politico, White House spokesperson Raj Shah said, “Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to addressing the Judiciary Committee in public hearings for the American people to view.”
Kavanaugh’s nomination was mired in controversy from the start. Shortly after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced earlier in the summer that he was retiring from the bench by the end of July, President Trump picked Kavanaugh to fill his seat on the Supreme Court. It immediately led to widespread criticism over Kavanaugh’s record on issues related to immigration, net neutrality, and climate change. It also didn’t help that Trump declared during his campaign that he would only nominate “pro-life” justices to the count; that Trump now has a chance to fill another Supreme Court vacancy prompted immediate concern from Democratic lawmakers and Planned Parenthood.
According to CNN, Kavanaugh needs 50 votes to be confirmed to the Supreme Court, which means — given the GOP’s slim 51-49 majority in the Senate — that every Republican will need to vote in his favor if no Democrats end up supporting him.
Multiple Democrats swiftly expressed outrage following Grassley’s announcement, arguing that setting the hearings for early September did not give the Senate Judiciary Committee nearly enough time to examine records associated with Kavanaugh’s tenure as White House staff secretary under George W. Bush. California Sen. Kamala Harris insisted on Twitter that “no one will be able to look at his full record before the hearing,” while Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin suggested that Senate Republicans are hiding key portions of Kavanaugh’s record from the American public.
In his statement announcing the timing of Kavanaugh’s hearings, however, Grassley — an Iowa Republican — said that setting the date for Sept. 4 would give the Senate Judiciary Committee ample opportunity to review documents pertaining to Kavanaugh.
“He’s met with dozens of senators who have nothing but positive things to say,” Grassley said in his statement. “At this current pace, we have plenty of time to review the rest of emails and other records that we will receive from President Bush and the National Archives. It’s time for the American people to hear directly from Judge Kavanaugh at his public hearing.”
However, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is not convinced that the Judiciary Committee will be able to thoroughly review all of the documents in time. CNN reported earlier this month that there are two separate reviews taking place at the same time — one by Bush’s legal team and another by the National Archives — and that the National Archives will not be able to complete a full review until late October. This, according to an interview Schumer gave to CNN, is proof that “Senate Republicans plan to rely on the documents provided by the Bush legal team and not wait for the National Archives to complete its review process.”
“We don’t know what they’ve held back, or why,” Schumer told CNN.
Despite this intense backlash from Senate Democrats, Politico reported that Grassley is optimistic that the Judiciary Committee will be able to complete Kavanaugh’s consideration within two weeks after the end of his confirmation hearings.