HARTFORD, CT — U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy tweeted that they won’t be voting in favor of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
“Brett Kavanaugh is a true Second Amendment radical. He believes assault weapon bans are unconstitutional, a position way out of the judicial mainstream, far to the right of even late Justice Scalia,” Murphy tweeted.
Blumenthal simply tweeted a link to the New York Times article and said “I’m voting no.”
Earlier in the day, the two held a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford and expressed concerned about Kavanaugh, who had been mentioned as one of the four Trump was considering.
Kavanaugh, 53, is a federal appeals court judge, former aide to President George W. Bush and onetime investigator of President Bill Clinton. He has a long history of decisions and the confirmation process could prove challenging because there is plenty of material for lawmakers to question.
Recently, Kavanaugh dissented on a decision that allowed an unauthorized immigrant teenager to get an abortion. He also rejected the Obama administration’s mandate that religious groups provide contraception coverage to employees. The Yale Law School graduate also has written that a president “may decline to enforce a statute . . . when the president deems the statute unconstitutional.”
A position that concerns those focused on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“My colleagues should join me in demanding that if Judge Kavanaugh becomes Justice Kavanaugh he will recuse himself from cases that appear almost certain to come before the Court – cases that will test whether the president can defy a subpoena, pardon his cronies or himself, or even fire a special counsel,” Blumenthal said. “If our country is to remain a nation of laws – where no one is above the law – we cannot allow the president to appoint a Supreme Court swing vote to insulate himself from accountability for criminality and wrongdoing.”
Blumenthal said this nomination is different because it will determine whether “we roll back the clock on criminalizing abortion and deny funding for critical womens healthcare and whether we eviscerate the protections for millions of Americans suffering from pre-existing conditions.”
He said the vote “will determine the constitutional underpinning of our nation for years to come.”
Blumenthal, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’s thought long and hard about how they need to take a different approach in their treatment of these nominees since Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed.
“We have been thinking about tactics and strategy for sometime now,” Blumenthal said.
Even before Justice Anthony Kennedy, a key swing vote on the court, announced his retirement, Blumenthal said they’ve been thinking about the rules of the committee and what they can do under the current rules.
“I think the president has straightjacketed himself into this Federalist Society list,” Blumenthal said. “And the Federalist Society doesn’t represent America.”
Trump worked from a list of two dozen candidates curated for him by the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives who are seeking to reform the courts with a textualist or an originalist.
The society founded in 1982 asserts that it “is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.”
Murphy said he thinks the Federalist Society went to then candidate Trump and asked to pre-screen candidates for the bench because they might have gotten it wrong with Justice John Roberts, who was reported to have been a member of the society, but Roberts’s membership status was never definitively established.
In 2005, the Washington Post wrote an article saying that may have spoken at events, but was never a full-fledged member.
“He has no recollection of ever being a member,” said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman.
Roberts disappointed the conservative base when he voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in 2012.
Aside from attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose, Murphy said Kavanaugh has taken positions far to the right of the Scalia court on guns.
“Everyone of them would be a nightmare for gun violence prevention,” Blumenthal said of the short list of nominees.
Connecticut Citizens Defense League President Scott Wilson applauded Trump’s pick.
“Although no one can be 100 percent certain on how a justice will decide on certain issues that come before the highest court in the land, Brett Kavanaugh has a track record of upholding the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution as an enumerated right that extends to individuals,” Wilson said. “His work is evidenced in his dissent of Heller v D.C. 2011.”