The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, a coalition comprising national, state, tribal, territorial and local leadership organizations representing thousands of advocates and others working to end domestic violence and sexual assault, writes to express our objection to the holding of confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh regarding the current vacancy on the US Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of our laws and Constitution, and its rulings dramatically impact our rights and freedoms. Every Supreme Court vacancy is significant, but the stakes could not be higher in deciding who will replace Justice Kennedy — who served as the deciding vote in nearly all the momentous cases of the past dozen years. Critical civil and human rights issues hang in the balance, yet vital documents that bear on Judge Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve on the Supreme Court have not yet been produced. Moreover, some key documents have not yet been requested. Therefore, it is imperative that the Senate Judiciary Committee not hold Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing until such time as all relevant documents have been produced and appropriate time afforded for their review.
Each Senator has an obligation to independently review Kavanaugh’s entire record, a significant portion of which has not yet been disclosed. Additionally, as recently highlighted by Senator Patrick Leahy, a former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Republicans have refused to request any documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s 3-year tenure as White House Staff Secretary, a time period described by the Judge himself as “the most interesting and … among the most instructive.” We share Senator Leahy’s concern regarding the absence of adequate transparency from both the White House and Senate Judiciary Republicans, and are therefore concerned that the Senate will be unable to fulfill its constitutionally mandated role of “advise and consent,” with respect to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
This is not a process that should be rushed, nor should it be shortchanged. Added to the failure of the Senate majority to request all relevant documents, then afford time for them to be produced and reviewed, is the stampede to hold a hearing before all the relevant documents become available. Senator Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley’s decision is unprecedented. The National Archives will not be able to make public the documents already requested before October, and these only represent 1% of the materials from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House, yet Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing is scheduled to commence in early September.
Hundreds of thousands of documents relevant to the nominee’s record remain to be either requested and/or released. It is a dereliction of Senators’ constitutional duty to simply allow one’s political party to determine approval of such an impactful appointment before that record is made public and reviewed thoroughly. The American people are represented in this crucial process in the Senate. The independent vetting that Supreme Court candidates receive has long been rigorous and this instance should be no exception. Justice Kennedy himself was not the first nominee to the seat he is vacating. Two nominees before him failed because of the Senate’s role, and the nation was better for it.
The National Task Force will continue to assess Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications and fitness based on his available record. Not only do we hope to share our insights with Judiciary Committee members, we owe it to survivors and advocates to share with them how this nominee could impact the laws and policies that affect them most significantly. In conclusion, however, it is shocking and irresponsible that without all relevant documents, the Senate would act so precipitously as to hold hearings, thereby depriving themselves and the American people of crucial information The Senate owes survivors and the American people more.
For questions or more information, please contact:
Director of Washington Operations
National Council of Jewish Women
Lisalyn R. Jacobs