Durbin Presses Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh On His Views Of President Trump's Power

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today pressed President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to clarify his views on executive power given that, if confirmed, he will likely rule on President Trump’s sweeping assertions of authority.

“You have been nominated to be a Justice on the United States Supreme Court by President Donald Trump.  We have to take your nomination in the context of this moment in history,” Durbin said.  “We are at a moment where the President has shown contempt for the federal Judiciary unlike any president we can recall.  He has shown disrespect for the rule of law over and over again.  He has repeatedly ridiculed the Attorney General of the United States whom he chose.  He has called for blatant partisanship in the prosecution of our laws.  He is a president who is the subject of an active, criminal investigation – an investigation which he has apparently sought to obstruct, repeatedly.  He is a president who has been characterized, in this hearing, publicly, on the record, as an unindicted co-conspirator.”

Durbin continued, “But it is in the context of the Trump presidency that we ask you these questions in anticipation that you may face issues involving this President which no other Supreme Court has been asked to face.  And that is why I want to address your view of the power of this President, the authority of this President, because it is an important contemporary question, which of course has application far beyond his presidency.

“Given our concerns about your views on executive power, it is important for you – at this moment, please – to clarify for us the power of the presidency in this age of Donald Trump,” Durbin said.

Judge Kavanaugh cited his deep faith in the independence of the judiciary.  Yet Judge Kavanaugh has also said that he agrees with Justice Scalia’s dissent in Morrison v. Olson, a dissent that embraces the so-called “unitary executive theory,” and Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly made claims of sweeping executive power. 

Additionally, Durbin pressed Judge Kavanaugh, once again, on Kavanaugh’s sworn testimony in 2006 where he denied any involvement in “questions about the rules governing detention of combatants” during his time in the Bush White House.  Once again, Judge Kavanaugh refused to acknowledge the obvious; he was involved in at least three different detainee issues and his testimony in 2006 to Durbin was inaccurate. 

Video of Durbin’s questioning to Judge Kavanaugh is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questioning to Judge Kavanaugh is available here.

Durbin has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 19 years, during which he has considered the nominations of five current Supreme Court justices.  In August, Durbin met with Judge Brett Kavanaugh.