Primary Source: Kavanaugh Concerns

  • Valley News political columnist and news editor John Gregg in West Lebanon, N.H., on September 20, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

It’s hardly a surprise, but Twin State senators are expressing strong reservations — and in one case outright opposition — to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he is concerned that Trump has been overly influenced by conservative groups in Washington and that Trump regards independent courts as he does the Department of Justice, as if they “should be an arm of the White House.”

“I have a message for Donald Trump: The Constitution does not direct the president to nominate justices with the advice and consent of the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. The Constitution gives that role to the Senate,” Leahy said in a news conference on Tuesday outside the Supreme Court.

Leahy this week also said Kavanaugh’s record indicates efforts “to dismantle environmental protections and to limit women’s rights. I also still have questions about how truthful he was during his 2006 confirmation hearing regarding his involvement in Bush-era detention policies.

“He must not evade fundamental questions that judicial nominees have answered for decades until recently. He needs to explain why we should believe he would be a justice for all Americans, independent of the president and the ideologically driven interest groups that selected him,” Leahy said.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said she wants to meet with Kavanaugh to discuss and “underscore the indispensable values of equality and freedom. The Court has reaffirmed these principles in landmark decisions that maintained protections for women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ civil liberties, and healthcare coverage for millions of Americans that depend on the Affordable Care Act. I will only support Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination if he protects the civil rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.”

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., started a petition opposing the nomination and made clear he is a no vote.

“This nomination is a 100 percent political decision, and one that will have a profoundly negative effect on the lives of working people of this country for decades to come if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed,” Sanders wrote. “Brett Kavanaugh’s record has made it clear he will use his position on the court to protect corporations at the expense of workers, to allow corporations and the wealthy to buy elections and to undermine voting rights. Further, given the fact that Donald Trump stated repeatedly during the campaign that any nominee of his would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, I have no doubt that is exactly what Brett Kavanaugh will do.”

First-term U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., also said she wants to protect a woman’s right to an abortion, among other civil liberties.

“I am concerned about Judge Kavanaugh’s commitment to the rights of all Americans given President Trump’s assurance that Roe v. Wade will be overturned by his nominees to the Court, coupled with the fact that this nominee came from a list of candidates developed with groups funded by corporate special interests. In the coming days, Judge Kavanaugh must be clear about how he views the importance of legal precedent and straightforward in his answers about past cases involving women’s reproductive rights, health care, the environment, LGBTQ equality, and the civil rights of all Americans,” Hassan said in a statement.

Briefly Noted

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu told New Hampshire Public Radio this week that he has “no regrets” in sparing the life of Mink, the Hanover-area black bear that became habituated to human food, last year. The sow recently was transported to northern Coos County and is roaming the area, in search of her latest litter of cubs, which are now being raised by bear expert Ben Kilham in Lyme. Sununu on Tuesday told NHPR, “There’s no reason we can’t all live synergistically.”

New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand, a former mayor of Portsmouth, this week launched a statewide tour to protect legal access to abortion. It includes a stop in Hanover on Tuesday afternoon. His primary rival, former state Sen. Molly Kelly, has been criticizing Sununu on a variety of fronts, including for signing a bill last year that she contends suppresses voting rights, especially for college students.

Early voting has started in Vermont for the Aug. 14 primary. Hartland resident Zachariah Ralph is running an active campaign in his bid to unseat one of the two fellow Democrats, state Reps. John Bartholomew, D-Hartland, and Paul Belaski, D-Windsor, in the Windsor 1 district representing Hartland, West Windsor and Windsor. Ralph is sponsoring a free concert at The Commons park in Windsor the afternoon of July 28 including Troy Ramey, a former Upper Valley resident who competed in the TV show The Voice.

Speaking of celebrities, actors Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, of Ally McBeal and Brothers & Sisters fame, were said to be spotted around Hanover last week as their son looked at Dartmouth during a college tour.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.