Breaking News

Kavanaugh responds to post-hearing questions

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy. After the hearing ended, senators submitted written questions – over 1,200 in all – to Kavanaugh, who responded last night. The senators’ questions address everything from Kavanaugh’s reaction when he was approached at the hearing by the father of a school-shooting victim to Kavanaugh’s personal finances; the questions and Kavanaugh’s responses comprise over 250 pages.

As he had at the hearing, Kavanaugh declined to respond to a number of questions on the ground that the issue “could well come before me in future litigation”; Kavanaugh also repeatedly referred the senators to his previous answers at the hearing regarding, for example, whether he had known in 2002 that a Republican Senate staffer had accessed the email accounts of Democratic Judiciary Committee staffers without their knowledge. Other responses contained more details, however, as Kavanaugh:

  • Stated that, when he used the term “abortion-inducing drugs” at his hearing to discuss his opinion in a challenge by religious nonprofits to the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate, he was “accurately describing the plaintiffs’ position”; he “was not expressing an opinion on whether particular drugs induce abortion.”
  • Explained that, when he was approached by Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this year, he “did not recognize” Guttenberg and “assumed he was a protestor.” “In a split second,” Kavanaugh continued, “my security detail intervened and ushered me out of the hearing room.” “If I had known who he was,” Kavanaugh stressed, “I would have shaken his hand, talked to him, and expressed my sympathy. And I would have listened to him.”
  • Announced that if confirmed he would step down from the board of the Washington Jesuit Academy, a Catholic school for boys from lower-income families. Kavanaugh declined to say whether, because the school accepts vouchers from the D.C. government to pay for tuition, he would recuse from any cases involving school vouchers; instead, he wrote that he would “consider that question as appropriate.”
  • Addressed questions about his finances, including substantial credit-card debt – later paid off – that he had previously described as arising from (among other things) his purchase of season tickets for Washington’s professional baseball team. Kavanaugh noted that he and his wife currently have “no debts other than our home mortgage,” and he provided a list of examples of the couple’s spending on home maintenance. “We have not received financial gifts other than from our family which are excluded from disclosure in judicial financial disclosure reports,” Kavanaugh wrote. “Nor,” he added, “have we received other kinds of gifts from anyone outside of our family, apart from ordinary non-reportable gifts related to, for example, birthdays, Christmas, or personal hospitality.” Kavanaugh also stressed that he had “not had gambling debts or participated in ‘fantasy’ leagues.”

When the Senate Judiciary Committee met this morning, committee chairman Charles Grassley announced that the committee would vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination next Thursday, September 20. But even with a date set for a committee vote, the battle over the documents relating to Kavanaugh’s service in the White House is likely to continue.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Kavanaugh responds to post-hearing questions, SCOTUSblog (Sep. 13, 2018, 2:16 PM),