Senate Democrats are willing to take their fight over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s paper trail all the way to court.
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus is preparing to sue the National Archives if it is unable to meet the party’s Freedom of Information Act request for hundreds of thousands of pages of Kavanaugh documents that have not yet been disclosed publicly. If the Archives has not met Democrats’ request in 20 days, Schumer and his members say they will go to court.
“We’d much rather follow the bipartisan process … now Republican obstruction requires an extraordinary response,” Schumer told reporters. “We stand ready to sue the National Archives for Judge Kavanaugh’s full records if necessary.”
The minority leader also said he would meet with Kavanaugh next week, breaking a long standoff between Schumer and the White House over the documents. He and dozens of other Democrats had hoped to receive a more full document review before meeting with the nominee, now an apparent impossibility before Kavanaugh’s Sept. 4 hearing.
Schumer said he would ask Kavanaugh about the documents “and what he intends to do about it. He can’t duck.”
The potential lawsuit would come right as Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings begin in early September. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), said that at a minimum, they would hope the courts would compel a partial release of documents as the hearings begin.
“I am prepared to go to court,” Blumenthal said. “Once we get in court, we can seek preliminary relief … that turns over at least some of the documents.
Since Kavanaugh worked for President George W. Bush, the Archives is working with the presidential library to release about 900,000 pages of Kavanaugh’s papers, a process run by Bill Burck, a lawyer who works for Bush. But Schumer and Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein are pushing for far more, which the Archives says it is unable to release.
In a notice posted on Wednesday, the Archives said there “several million pages” of documents on Kavanaugh at the library and at the Archives. The Archives said it is not able to comply with the Senate Democrats’ request, hence the stalemate that could go all the way to court.
The lawsuit shows the lengths that Senate Democrats are going to in order to derail the nomination. The vast majority of the caucus already opposes Kavanaugh, but the GOP needs a bare majority to confirm him.
“Watching this confirmation unfold is like watching the tortured last moments of a blowout basketball game. Democrats are down thirty with 10 seconds left, but they keep fouling to stop the shot clock in an attempt to avoid their inevitable defeat,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Judiciary Committee, on Thursday.
Yet with a restive liberal base, Schumer is still hoping that there’s something in Kavanaugh’s voluminous records that might sway moderate GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to oppose the conservative judge. Several moderate Democrats are also undecided, but their votes won’t determine Kavanaugh’s confirmation without some GOP defections.
“If those documents come out, it could persuade some others to vote against it, including some on the Republican side,” Schumer said. “His legitimacy is being undermined already because they refuse to release documents.”