Senate Democrats are trying something new as they scramble to block Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh: tying him to his former law clerk, a prominent Georgia judge whose circuit court nomination is pending before the chamber.
Democrats likely don’t have the votes to thwart Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant’s nomination to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is scheduled to occur this week. But they’re seeking to use the former Georgia solicitor general’s record to convince centrist Republicans to reject Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., rolled out a new messaging campaign on Monday afternoon that framed Grant’s legal philosophy as “extreme.” He cited several cases she argued on Georgia’s behalf, including on voting rights, gay marriage and a “fetal pain” abortion law.
“From reproductive rights to gun safety, name a partisan legal case from the past five years and there’s a good chance Britt Grant has been involved, taking up a fringe legal argument way out of the American mainstream to weaken well-established rights and overturn a precedent in pursuit of an ideological objective,” he said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.
Schumer said Kavanaugh’s previous statements vouching for Grant potentially “serve as a window into his own judicial philosophy.”
“It makes you wonder what exactly does Judge Kavanaugh agree with her on so that he’d call her so many laudatory things,” he added.
Republicans, including Georgia’s Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, have touted both Grant and Kavanaugh’s conservative track records and moved to quickly confirm both jurists.
Grant “is uniquely qualified and has served our state and nation with distinction and integrity,” said Isakson, who along with Perdue introduced the Atlanta native at her Senate confirmation hearing.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote is expected to come later this fall, and Grant’s as soon as Tuesday. The chamber advanced her nomination on a 52-44 procedural vote on Monday evening.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Grant’s credentials were “impressive” and cited letters of support penned by her colleagues on the Georgia Supreme Court and other solicitors general.
“The understanding of a judge’s role, and the temperament to execute it, is precisely the approach that our constitutional order requires of our judges,” McConnell said Monday afternoon. “I look forward to voting to advance Justice Grant’s nomination later today and urge each of my colleagues to join me.”
Trump tapped Grant for a lifetime position on the busy 11th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this spring, but her nomination was slowed for the better part of two months due to an unrelated GOP dispute over trade. The president also named Grant to his Supreme Court short list.
Democrats have limited tools at their disposal to block nominees they don’t like because the GOP holds a two-seat majority in the chamber and the filibuster was scrapped for judicial nominees.
Schumer in recent weeks has sought to pressure moderate Republicans to reject Kavanaugh by raising questions about his views on presidential power, abortion and other issues.
Both Perdue and Isakson have praised Kavanaugh and indicated they’ll back his nomination.
"I have no doubt that he is exactly the kind of justice we need on the United States Supreme Court: an independent jurist and ardent defender of the Constitution," Perdue said of Kavanaugh.
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