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Democrats still have questions for SCOTUS nominee Kavanaugh

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., speaks to WJLA from Capitol Hill on Sep. 12, 2018. (WJLA)

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s grilling by the Senate Judiciary Committee may be over, but Democrats still have questions about the man who would be President Donald Trump’s second selection to sit on the nation’s highest court.

“There is major concern as to whether he will represent an independent voice on the Supreme Court and as a check and balance on the president and against powerful interests,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

Democrats submitted hundreds of additional written questions for the nominee this week. According to the Washington Post, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., had 14 pages of questions, including several about the limits of executive power and one about whether Kavanaugh has “ever sought treatment for a gambling addiction.”

Several Democrats have announced their intent to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation in the wake of the four-day hearing. Although the nominee faced two days of at times heated interrogation, some lawmakers have complained he was not forthcoming enough about his views or that he was outright dishonest in some answers.

“After meeting with him, reviewing his record, and watching his hearing, Judge Kavanaugh has clearly failed to show he would be an independent check against executive power. He would threaten Supreme Court precedent on women's health, marriage equality, and more,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said in a statement Friday.

Republicans maintain Kavanaugh provided similar answers to past nominees who do not want to prejudge issues that may come before them on the court. They also dispute allegations that he provided false answers in last week’s hearing or in previous appearances before senators.

“I think he is an immensely qualified mainstream jurist and I just hope other members of the United States Senate are seeing that as well,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

Democrats have also complained that hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s time as a White House aide remain unavailable. Republicans have defended withholding documents that may fall under executive privilege.

“What we learned during the confirmation hearing, or what we didn’t learn during the confirmation hearing, is that the Republican leadership is going to protect Judge Kavanaugh from having to produce many of his records,” Cardin said.

Despite Democratic reservations, Kavanaugh remains on track for likely confirmation before the Supreme Court’s next term begins in October. Most Republicans have already announced support for him, and one key senator, Susan Collins of Maine, has dismissed efforts by progressive activists to sway her vote as “bribery.”

“I do think he will be confirmed,” Ernst said. “Not only will he uphold the law, support the Constitution of the United States of America but he is also just a good person.”

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