Democrats are protesting Sen. Chuck Grassley’s beginning Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court and the process for getting Kavanaugh documents, but recent history shows they have nothing to complain about, because they approved the very same process for the most recent nominee from a Democratic president. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley (R-IA) decided to go the extra mile to accommodate Democratic senators. He will begin Kavanaugh’s hearing 57 days after President Trump nominated him, as compared to 48, 49, and 48 days for Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch respectively—the three most recent nominees from both parties. Grassley also agreed to provide 900,000 pages of documents involving Kavanaugh’s government service, more than any nominee in history, and more than four times the number provided for recent nominees of either party—including Kagan (who had only 172,000 pages). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) considers that all-time high of 900,000 documents on President Trump’s nominee to be insufficient, and so is requesting numerous additional documents from the National Archives. But as The Hill’s Jordain Carney reported, Archivist David Ferriero informed Feinstein that both the Justice Department and the Archives’ general counsel, Gary Stern, have advised him that the Presidential Records Act authorizes only committee chairmen to request documents, not individual senators. Feinstein is crying foul at the archivist’s decision, despite the fact that Ferriero was appointed by President Obama. The Archives are not able to complete Grassley’s document request until late October due to its enormous size, but senators are determined to have Kavanaugh confirmed in time for the Court to start its annual term on October 1, so that the Court will not be short-staffed with an even number of justices that could result in cases unnecessarily wasted on 4-4 tie votes. (These efforts are not to be confused with the separate effort by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who is leading committee Democrats in filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for additional documents.) But Republicans have actually stepped up to the plate to help. Hundreds of thousands of the documents from the National Archives are also available through other sources, like President George W. Bush’s presidential library and the Office of George W. Bush. The Presidential Records Act (PRA) is the federal law that allows presidents to refuse to release many documents from an administration until 12 years after that president leaves office, after which many documents can still be kept private. The PRA also empowers a former presidents to designate someone to act for that president in deciding which documents he is willing to make public during that 12-year window. The man Bush designated under the PRA before the 43rd president left office in 2009, former White House Deputy Counsel William Burck, is leading a team of 50 lawyers who are reviewing all the document requests regarding Kavanaugh. Between Burck and the Archives, over 200,000 pages of documents have already been given to the committee – which is already more than the total number for any Supreme Court nominee in over 200 years.
And of course this is ALL completely irrelevant. These Dems intend to vote against Judge Kavanaugh anyway. So, this is just time-wasting, partisan politics at its worst. Sen. Grassley (R-IA) is right to make sure that every REASONABLE attempt is made to secure as many docs as possible, to ensure that these hand-wringing Dems can’t disingenously cry foul during the hearings. But, the good Senator from Iowa is also right to just keep the hearings on schedule and Kavanaugh’s confirmation moving forward. The confirmation is forgone conclusion. It’ll happen. And none of these stalling tactics by these hypocritical Dems will stop that.