Kavanaugh fight casts long shadow over Jackson hearing

A vitriolic fight over then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is looming over the first day of nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing. 

Several senators on Monday brought up the 2018 Supreme Court battle, when Kavanaugh’s relatively low-key nomination was upended by sexual assault allegations that came out after the Judiciary Commitee had held its hearing with Kavanaugh. 

Kavanaugh denied the allegations and was ultimately confirmed, but the fight over his nomination has hung over the Senate. Protesters at the time of the Kavanaugh fight confronted senators around the Capitol complex, and police officers escorted rank-and-file senators, who normally walk around the Capitol alone or with a staffer, to and from votes. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the committee, became the first GOP senator to mention Kavanaugh, contrasting the low-drama start to the hearing to the 2018 hearing. Kavanaugh’s hearing first hearing was routinely interrupted by protesters. 

“We won’t try to turn this into a spectacle based on alleged process fouls. On that front, we’re off to a good start,” Grassley said. 

But he was hardly the last GOP senator to mention the Kavanaugh hearings. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), the next GOP senator to speak, contrasted how Republicans would treat Jackson with the tensions over Kavanaugh. 

“Democratic senators are not going to have their windows busted by groups. It means that no Republican senator is going to unleash on you an attack about your character when the hearing is almost over,” Graham said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Jackson that her hearing will have none of the “disgraceful behavior” of the previous fights. 

“No one is going to ask you, with mock severity, ‘do you like beer?'” Cruz said. 

Kavanaugh said during his opening statement during a one-day hearing where he responded to questions about the sexual assault allegations that “I liked beer. I still like beer.”

Former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who has been helping shepherd Jackson’s nomination through the Senate, said he wasn’t surprised by the mentions of Kavanaugh noting that the 2018 hearing was still a “very touchy issue.” 

“What we saw today was yes talking about this, but what we say was a very respectful hearing,” Jones said. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Judiciary Committee chairman, asked why Democrats didn’t respond to the Kavanaugh references said that the hearing “isn’t a history class.” 

“We all learn from life experiences. …I don’t want to relive that history. I think we’re pushing forward, ” he said. 

Updated 9:30 p.m.

Tags Brett Kavanaugh Chuck Grassley Dick Durbin doug jones Ketanji Brown Jackson Lindsey Graham Supreme Court Ted Cruz

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