Posts tagged with "Brett Kavanaugh"

Supreme Court allows Border Patrol to remove razor wire that Texas installed at Mexico border

January 24, 2024

On Monday, January 22, a closely divided Supreme Court allowed Border Patrol agents to cut through or move razor wire that Texas previously had installed on the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the state’s effort to prevent illegal border crossings, reports NBC News.

The court, on a 5-4 vote, granted an emergency request filed by the Biden Administration, which had argued that Texas was preventing agents from carrying out their duties.

The brief order noted that four conservative members of the nine-justice court would have rejected the government’s request. They were Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh.

The Biden Administration says the wire prevents agents from reaching migrants who have already crossed over the border into the United States.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott (R), installed the razor wire near the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass as part of an operation to address illegal immigration that has brought the state into conflict with the Biden Administration.

A White House spokesperson on Monday said: “Texas’ political stunts, like placing razor wire near the border, simply make it harder and more dangerous for frontline personnel to do their jobs. Ultimately, we need adequate resources and policy changes to address our broken immigration system.”

Texas sued after Border Patrol agents cut through some of the razor wire—claiming the agents had trespassed and damaged state property.

A federal judge ruled for the Biden Administration, but the New Orleans-based Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month reversed that decision, saying agents could not cut or move the wire unless there was a medical emergency.

Abbott’s immigration enforcement plan, called Operation Lone Star, includes busing thousands of migrants to Democratic-led cities and arresting migrants on trespassing charges. The state previously placed buoys in the Rio Grande to prevent crossings, prompting the Biden Administration to sue. The barrier remains in place while litigation continues.

Even while the Biden Administration’s application was pending at the Supreme Court, the standoff intensified.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton rebuffed a Biden Administration request that the state back off its takeover of a public park at Eagle Pass. That followed an incident in which three people drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande. The Department of Homeland Security said Border Patrol agents were “physically barred” from entering the area in responding to the incident.

“It is impossible to say what might have happened if Border Patrol had had its former access to the area—including through its surveillance trucks that assisted in monitoring the area,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said in a court filing on behalf of the Biden Administration.

The Department of Homeland Security welcomed the high court’s order: “Enforcement of immigration law is a federal responsibility,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement. “Rather than helping to reduce irregular migration, the State of Texas has only made it harder for frontline personnel to do their jobs and to apply consequences under the law.”

Paxton, in a statement posted to X, said that the Supreme Court’s order “allows Biden to continue his illegal effort to aid the foreign invasion of America.

“The destruction of Texas’s border barriers will not help enforce the law of keep American citizens safe,” he added. “This fight is not over, and I look forward to defending our state’s sovereignty.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Collins refuses to be final naysayer on Kavanaugh, ensuring SCOTUS nomination

October 8, 2018

In a déjà vu moment for the Trump administration, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) once again supported her GOP colleagues—and disappointed liberals nationwide—on a crucial vote on October 5.

Just as she had promised to say “nay” on both the healthcare and tax reform bills—and then waffled at the last minute—Collins said on Friday afternoon that she would vote to seat nominee Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court after she previously admitted to serious doubts about his honesty and allegations against him of sexual assault.

As late in the process as October 4, Collins had insinuated that she might not be a swing vote, saying that the supplemental FBI investigation, which probed the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, was “very thorough.”

Earlier in the day Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) had announced her intention to vote against an administrative motion to move forward Friday morning—later calling the cloture vote “a mistake.” Had Collins also supported that same position, Kavanaugh would not have had the support on the floor to win the October 6 vote.

A small handful of legislators — Collins, Murkowski, Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) had been considered potential swing votes on Kavanaugh up until Friday morning. But both Flake and Manchin both voted “yes” to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor, leaving Collins as the only possible outlier.

However, referring to the “outlandish allegation” made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Senator Collins said that certain fundamental issues, including the “presumption of innocence,” should come into play.

She also noted that nobody had corroborated Ford’s statements during the abbreviated and circumscribed FBI investigation started on September 28. “None of the individuals Professor Ford says were at the party has any recollections at all of that night,” she said, explaining her decision to vote for Kavanaugh.

Research contact: @thomcraver

Trump denies reports that he is limiting the FBI’s Kavanaugh probe

October 2, 2018

Following a compromise deal made on September 28 by the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to a request by Republican Senator Jeff Flake (R), the Federal Bureau of Investigation has reopened its background investigation of SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Already limited to a one-week period, the probe has been further circumscribed by instructions from U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a report by the Huffington Post.

Although the FBI will be permitted to interview Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford, who testified before the Judiciary Committee last week—as well as  a second accuser, Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate Denise Ramirez— the agency will reportedly leave the nominee’s third accuser alone upon request from the White House.

In addition, according to an NBC News report, the FBI will specifically not be able to question Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates about his drinking habits, even though alcohol plays a role in all three accusers’ claims about the nominee, who denies ever drinking to the point of not remembering certain events.

Ranking Member of the committee Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California.) lashed out on Twitter at the possibility that constraints had been placed on the investigation

Trump tweeted late Saturday night that he was not limiting the FBI in its investigation and that NBC News had got the story wrong. He said, “NBC News incorrectly reported (as usual) that I was limiting the FBI investigation of Judge Kavanaugh, and witnesses, only to certain people. Actually, I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion. Please correct your reporting!

Trump told reporters on Saturday that the agency has “free rein” to do “whatever they have to do, whatever it is they do.”

“They’ll be doing things that we have never even thought of,” Trump said. “And hopefully at the conclusion everything will be fine.”

Research contactsara.boboltz@huffingtonpost.com

Flake urges one-week delay for FBI probe of allegations against Kavanaugh

October 1,  2018

On Friday, September 28, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 along party lines to advance Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination to the entire Senate for a vote. However, the floor vote may be delayed for as long as one week.

After hearings on September 27 that comprised credible accusations of sexual assault made by Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford—and strong denials from the  nominee—the committee now is considering a variety of demands to conduct a more thorough investigation of the allegations through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A member of the committee, Republican Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona) voted with his GOP colleagues, but then called for a delay so that the FBI could investigate the accusations against Kavanaugh.

In addition, the American Bar Association, Yale University, and three Republican governors —Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and John Kasich of Ohio—called for a probe into the charges.

In a letter sent to committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) on the evening after the September 27 hearings,  Robert Carlson, the president of the American Bar Association called on the committee to halt the confirmation vote until “after an appropriate background check into the allegations made by Professor Ford and others is completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others),” he said, “is simply too important to rush to a vote. Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court. It must remain an institution that will reliably follow the law and not politics.

The call for a pause is significant, The New York Times said,  not just because of the bar association’s clout in the legal community, but because an A.B.A. committee had said unanimously a month ago that Judge Kavanaugh was “well-qualified” for the Supreme Court, its highest possible designation. Judge Kavanaugh and his supporters had noted that distinction in arguing for his nomination to be approved by the Senate.

Meanwhile, 48 members of the faculty of Kavanaugh’s alma mater, Yale Law School, sent a letter delineating concerns about “a rush to judgment.” They noted “Where, as here, a sexual assault has been alleged against an individual nominated for a lifetime appointment in a position of public trust, a partisan hearing alone cannot be the forum to determine the truth of the matter. Allegations of sexual assault require a neutral factfinder and an investigation that can ascertain facts fairly.  Those at the FBI or others tasked with such an investigation must have adequate time to investigate facts. Fair process requires evidence from all parties with direct knowledge and consultation of experts when evaluating such evidence. In subsequent hearings, all of those who testify, and particularly women testifying about sexual assault, must be treated with respect.

In addition, three Republican governors—John Kasich of Ohio, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Phil Scott of Vermont—called for the GOP-controlled Senate to slow down Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and a fourth called the accusations against him “disturbing.”

According to a report by the Huffington Post, Baker and Kasich both weighed in on Twitter. Baker described the allegations as “sickening” and said there should be no Senate vote until an independent investigation is complete. Kasich, who is in his final year as governor and is widely seen as a potential long-shot primary challenger to President Donald Trump in 2020, went further in his own statement, saying he would not support Kavanaugh’s confirmation “in the absence of a complete and thorough investigation.”

Scott made similar remarks to the Burlington Free Press. “This is a lifetime appointment,” Scott said. “And I’m not taking a position on Judge Kavanaugh himself, but we owe it to Americans to make sure that they get it right. Because this doesn’t happen every day. And it’s their obligation to do so. So take your time. Investigate.”

In addition, the Huffington Post reported, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told The Baltimore Sun on September 26 that the accusations were “disturbing” and gave him “great pause.”

He noted,“There are credible charges and big concerns. They need to be heard,” he said after an event in Montgomery County. “They ought to take whatever time it takes to make sure these accusers are heard and he has a chance to respond to them.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)—who, as a committee member, had adamantly defended the nominee during the hearings on September 27—told CNN after the committee vote that he did not think the delay was necessary, but “this is democracy.” He added, “If Jeff feels better about it, I’ll feel better about it,”

Currently, according to Fox News, 56% of U.S. voters would delay the full Senate floor confirmation process on Kavanaugh to allow for more investigation of the allegations against him; and 31% would not delay.

Rsearch contact: @foxnewspoll

Opposition to Kavanaugh escalates among voters, especially women

September 24, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh is facing mounting backlash to his Supreme Court nomination, especially among women—turning his hearings and confirmation vote into the most polarized judicial battle in more than a decade, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on September 20 has found.

Kavanaugh—who is embroiled in a controversy over sexual-assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford—is also the first court nominee in Journal/NBC polling dating to 2005 to draw more opposition than support among voters.

According to a report by the Journal late last week, the poll found that 38% of registered voters oppose the Kavanaugh nomination, up from 29% in a Journal/NBC poll last month. Some 34% said they support his nomination, which is about the same as in last month’s poll. More than one-quarter of voters say they don’t know enough to have an opinion.

The poll was taken Sept. 16-19, after Blasey-Ford ‘s letter, accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, was released to the FBI by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California).

Kavanaugh has denied the allegation, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been debating the terms of a hearing that would draw testimony from the nominee and his accuser.

Kavanaugh’s weak support among women could have political ramifications in an election year in which suburban women are considered an important, swing voting group, the Journal reported. While men split 41% to 33% in favor of the Kavanaugh nomination, support among women was far lower, with 28% favoring the nomination and 42% in opposition.

College-educated women are particularly sour on. Kavanaugh: 49% of them oppose his nomination, while 28% support it.

Analyzed by party, the difference of opinion is wider than for any other nominee since 2005, with 66% of Democrats opposing the Kavanaugh nomination and 73% of Republicans supporting it.

Research contact: @hookjan

Both Kavanaugh and #MeToo accuser are willing to testify to Senate Judiciary Committee

September 18, 2018

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said on September 17 that he is willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to address the accusations of a woman who alleges that, when they both were teenagers, he sexually assaulted her at Georgetown Preparatory School in suburban Washington.

According to a report by The Hill, Kavanaugh in a new statement called the woman’s accusation—framed in a letter given to the FBI by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California)—a “completely false allegation

“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone,” Kavanaugh said. “Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.”

The federal judge said he would speak to the Judiciary panel “in any way the committee deems appropriate” in order to “defend my integrity.”

Kavanaugh was spotted by television cameras walking to the White House shortly before his statement was released, The Hill reported, noting further, “

It is the latest sign the White House is digging in as his nomination has been thrown into turmoil.”

Initially reluctant to reveal her identity, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, went public on September 16 with her accusation, because, she said, she believed it was her “civic responsibility.”.

She told The Washington Post that she thinks the alleged incident took place in 1982, when she was a 15-year-old sophomore at an all-girls school in suburban Maryland. Kavanaugh, who attended an all-boys school, would have been 17.

At an off-campus party, she encountered Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge—whom she said had been drinking earlier and were very drunk—when she went upstairs to use the bathroom after having one beer.

She said she was pushed into a bedroom and Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed and tried to remove her clothing, while both boys laughed “maniacally.”

When she tried to scream, she told the Post, Kavanaugh held a hand over her mouth. I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” she told the Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Eventually, Ford said, Judge jumped on top of them, and she managed to get free and lock herself in a bathroom. After she heard the boys “going down the stairs, hitting the walls,” she told the news outlet, she made it downstairs and out the door, but doesn’t remember how she got home.

Ford’s attorney said on September 17 that her client is also willing to testify publicly about the charges.

“She is. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her story forth, yes,” Debra Katz, who is representing  Ford, said on NBC’s Today  show.

Despite denials from Kavanaugh and the White House, several senators have voiced concerns about moving ahead with the nomination before hearing from Ford, The Hill reported.

No polls on the Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination have been released since news of the letter’s contents was reported over the weekend.

Research contact: @jordanfabian

Democrats and demonstrators fail in attempts to stall Kavanaugh hearing

September 5, 2018

As leading Democrats and public demonstrators repeatedly disrupted attempts to start the hearing, the first day of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process began on Capitol Hill on September 4, with Republicans flatly denying all request for delay.

Democrats—including Senators Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), Corey Booker (New Jersey), and Kamala Harris (California)— pleaded for more time to review the more than 42,000 pages of additional documents from Kavanaugh’s earlier career that were had been handed over to the Senate Judiciary Committee less than 24 hours earlier, and noted that the committee had ignored crucial parts of Kavanaugh’s White House record.

According to a report by The Hill, Senator Harris started the Democratic protests, saying that the senators could not “possibly move forward” given the late hand-over of documents. 

“We are rushing through this process in a way that’s unnecessary,” argued Senator Booker.

For his part, Senator Blumenthal called the committee’s handling of the documents a “charade” and a “mockery” to the chamber.

“If we cannot be recognized I move to adjourn,” Blumenthal said. “We have been denied real access to the documents we need.”

However, the news outlet said, amid jeers from protesters in the hearing room—22 of whom were removed by security within an hour—Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) rejected requests by Democrats for an adjournment, arguing the minority was simply trying to suspend the proceedings.

“I shouldn’t have to explain to you, we’re having a hearing. It’s out of order,” Grassley told the committee. The 84-year-old senator was at times drowned out by protestors or had to raise his voice to be heard in the packed committee room.

Grassley maintained that “senators have had more than enough time … to adequately access Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications.”

And Republicans expressed frustration with Democratic demands, arguing they were out of order for interrupting the proceedings.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the committee hearing was being run by “mob rule” and that if senators were in an actual courtroom, Democrats would be “held in contempt,” The Hill reported.

Grassley argued that his staff had already read the 42,000 pages handed over to the committee Monday on a “committee confidential” basis and there was “no reason to delay the hearing.”

Grassley also argued that the hearing was not an executive session and so would not hold a vote on adjourning the committee hearing.

But Blumenthal urged the committee to go into executive session and warned that the committee’s handling of Kavanaugh’s nomination “will be tainted and stained forever.”

Senators had received hundreds of thousands of pages from a legal team working for Bush. The National Archives is also reviewing documents from Kavanaugh’s work as a White House lawyer, but isn’t expected to be able to finish its work until the end of October. Republicans want to confirm Kavanaugh this month.

Republicans have refused to request documents from Kavanaugh’s three-year period as staff secretary in the White House, despite arguments from Democrats that they are crucial to understanding his thoughts on issues like torture and interrogation.

Democrats argue the three-year period is crucial to understanding Kavanaugh’s thoughts on issues like torture and interrogation.

“The fact that we can’t take a few days or weeks to have a complete review of Judge Kavanaugh’s record is unfair to the American people,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) argued.  

Meanwhile, In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Tuesday morning, Americans were split on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court— coming in at the the lowest support levels for a high court nominee in polling back to 1987. Thirty-eight percent of Americans say Kavanaugh should be confirmed, 39% not, with the rest undecided in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Only two nominees have had weaker public support: Harriet Miers, who withdrew her nomination, in 2005; and Robert Bork, rejected by the Senate in 1987.

Research contact: @jordainc

Schumer: ‘Mainfestly unfair’ not to share Kavanaugh documents with entire Senate

August 22, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Charles (Chuck) Schumer (D-New York) said on August 20 that he is demanding that documents from SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh‘s White House tenure under President George W. Bush as Staff Secretary that currently are marked “committee confidential” should be shared with the entire Senate.

“I will … be submitting a request to the chairman and the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee for access for all senators to all of the Kavanaugh documents in the possession of the committee,” Schumer said, according to a report by The Hill on Monday.

He added that “withholding documents from the Senate and the American people under the bogus label of committee confidential is a dark development for the Senate.”

As the legal team for former President George W. Bush hands over documents on Kavanaugh’s work at the White House to the Judiciary Committee, the paperwork is initially marked “committee confidential.” The documents are then reviewed to determine which can be released publicly, The Hill said.

Democrats estimate that roughly 33% of the documents handed over by the Bush legal team to Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are still marked “committee confidential”—preventing them being released publicly.

“It’s outrageous. Now, Chairman Grassley is usually a fair-minded man. …But when it comes to this area, Chairman Grassley’s actions are manifestly unfair, not typical of his character. I understand the pressure he is under, but that doesn’t forgive the result,” Schumer added.

In a strictly partisan move, Republicans have dismissed the attacks, arguing that Democrats have focused on Kavanaugh’s paperwork because they’ve struggled to find a policy issue that could sink his nomination.

Grassley called out Schumer in a tweet saying any senator was able to stop by the Judiciary Committee to review the documents.

A spokesperson for Grassley also called accepting documents as “committee confidential” an “old hat.”

“Now, as in the past, the committee has agreed to accept material at least initially on a committee confidential basis in order to facilitate timely access and review. Doing so ensures that members of the committee have access to records that presidents may otherwise privilege. This procedure is old hat and the Democrats know it,” the spokesperson added.

According to a CNN poll released on August 16, only 37% of Americans say they’d like to see the Senate vote in favor of his confirmation. Kavanaugh’s support is the lowest in polling dating back to Robert Bork’s nomination by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Research contact: @jennagiesta

‘Dark money’ funds TV ads to defeat Dems

July 16, 2018

So-called “dark money” has funded nearly 44% of TV spots about Congressional candidates during the first six months of this year, according to an analysis of Kantar Media data by USA Today, released on July 13. And more than half of those ads (25%) have not been positive.

In all, nearly 386,000 television spots focused on House and Senate races aired between January 1 and July 8, ranging from ads by candidates to those funded by outside groups. That total surpasses the 355,464 broadcast TV spots that ran at the same point in the last midterm elections for Congress in 2014 and underscores the battle raging for control of Congress.

Leading the way, the news outlet said, were organizations “affiliated with” billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, whose conservative donor network “plows hundreds of millions of dollars into politics” during each election cycle.

Indeed, two groups tied to Koch—Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America—accounted for more than 25% of the advertising from groups that don’t disclose their donors. Both broadcast negative ads against five Democratic senators from red and purple states who are up for reelection—among them, Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Not only that, but they are only just kicking off their efforts, both to oust candidates who do not support their political agenda—and to advocate for those who are prepared to hold the conservative line.

Americans for Prosperity has announced that it will spend at least $1 million on paid advertising and voter outreach to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who is President Donald Trump’s pick for the seat on the Supreme Court being vacated by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy..

The other groups in the top five are One Nation, an issue advocacy group linked to Senate GOP leadership; Vote Vets Action Fund, a Democratic group that aims to elect veterans to office; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Democrats need to flip 23 seats in order to regain the House majority. But the party has a tougher challenge in the Senate. They’re largely playing defense and protecting ten seats in states Trump won, despite Republicans’ slim 51-49 seat majority

Research contact: fschoute@usatoday.com