Kavanaugh Submission Shines New Light on His Record, Views

Vice President Mike Pence, right, speaks about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, center, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, listens during a visit to Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Kavanaugh is on Capitol Hill to meet with Republican leaders as the battle begins over his nomination to the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over the weekend filed his first paperwork with the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first official look at his record amid calls from Democrats for an extensive review of documents he produced while in the White House and during his lengthy career as a judge.

Kavanaugh on Saturday filed his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire, a document all judicial nominees return that details their employment history and provides a snapshot of cases they have heard or tried, the clubs they have joined and the process that led to their nomination.

The questionnaire shows the White House reached out to Kavanaugh “in the late afternoon” of June 27, the day outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Kavanaugh met with President Donald Trump on July 2 and again on July 8, when Trump offered him the nomination.

Over the course of 110 pages, Kavanaugh’s questionnaire details every speech he has given and public appearance he has made, starting with a 2000 Federal Bar Association symposium on federal sentencing guidelines and ending with his comments at the White House on the night he was nominated.

Kavanaugh, who has served as a judge on the D.C. Circuit since 2006, also listed in the document “the 10 most significant cases” he has presided over since taking the bench. Kavanaugh told the committee he chose nine of the cases he did because the Supreme Court later agreed with “the position expressed in my opinion.”

He said he chose the 10th case on the list, Ayissi-Etoh v. Fannie Mae, “because of what it says about anti-discrimination law and American history.” In that case, the D.C. Circuit reversed a district court holding dismissing an employment discrimination lawsuit brought against Fannie Mae by an African American employee who said he was called a racial slur at work.

In a separate concurrence, Kavanaugh wrote that a single use of the “n-word” in an office setting should be enough to establish a hostile work environment.

“No other word in the English language so powerfully or instantly calls to mind our country’s long and brutal struggle to overcome racism and discrimination against African-Americans,” Kavanaugh wrote.

The document also details Kavanaugh’s experience before he took the bench, including his work on several cases stemming from his time on former Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s investigation into the Clintons.

The filing comes as Republicans and Democrats bicker over the proper amount of document review to conduct as Kavanaugh’s nomination moves forward. Democrats have promised to make extensive requests for documents from Kavanaugh’s lengthy legal and political history, but Republicans say such a search would be unfeasible.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, said Democrats have a draft document request “that is almost identical” to that filed during the fight over Justice Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Feinstein said that request included emails and “hand-written notes” Kagan produced while working in the Clinton White House and that she expects Kavanaugh, who worked in the Bush administration, will be held to the same standard of transparency.

She pointed out Kavanaugh’s record at the White House could be significant, as it would clarify his role in some of the Bush administration’s larger controversies, such as its use of torture.

“The Senate and the American public were given the opportunity to review Justice Kagan’s full record,” Feinstein said last week. “The Senate and the American public must be given the same opportunity to review the entirety of Judge Kavanaugh’s record.”

But Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said such a request would bring an unmanageable deluge of documents, pointing out Kagan’s record was thinner than Kavanaugh’s would be because she did not serve as a judge before being nominated to the Supreme Court.

Cornyn said he understands the need to look through documents Kavanaugh wrote or contributed to, but that papers he simply passed along or read would be unnecessary clutter.

“Some sort of standard, it seems to me, should apply, rather than just say we want every scrap of paper that he ever saw during the time he was in government service either as White House counsel or as staff secretary or as a judge,” Cornyn said last week at the business meeting.

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