WILKES-BARRE — The vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh is expected to be almost entirely along party lines, so it should be no surprise how Pennsylvania’s senators feel about the Supreme Court nominee.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, will vote for Kavanaugh while his Democratic colleague, Sen. Bob Casey, will oppose the nomination.
“I will be voting to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Toomey said in a Friday press release. “His sterling academic credentials and outstanding legal record, which includes 12 years of exemplary service as a judge on the second highest court in the nation, make him exceptionally well qualified to serve as the Supreme Court’s next Associate Justice.”
Casey, D-Scranton, took a somewhat different approach.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s record indicates that he would further stack the court in favor of corporate interests to the detriment of workers and middle class families,” Casey said. “These fundamental concerns led me to announce my opposition to his nomination this summer. These concerns were compounded by Dr. Ford’s credible and persuasive testimony. I believed her and still do. There are serious questions about the Administration constraining and meddling with the FBI’s background investigation.
“I plan to vote against the final confirmation because it represents a corrupt bargain with the far Right, big corporations and Washington special interests. I hope my colleagues will do the same.”
Senators voted 51-49 Friday to limit debate, defeating Democratic efforts to scuttle the Kavanaugh nomination with endless delays. The Associated Press reported that Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican voting to stop the nomination and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was the sole Democrat to keep it alive. The official confirmation vote is expected to come Saturday.
Toomey went on to say Kavanaugh’s long career of public service displays “a remarkable fidelity to the Constitution and understanding of the proper role of a judge.” Toomey said Kavanaugh is an impartial jurist who treats everyone fairly and decides cases neutrally on the basis of the law and not a preferred policy or outcome.
“Further, Judge Kavanaugh understands that changes to the law must be made by the American people, acting through the democratic process, and not by unelected judges,” Toomey said. “His record gives me great confidence that he will discharge his duties on the Supreme Court intelligently and faithfully.”
Toomey explained he has long held that when considering judicial nominees, objective qualifications are more important than partisan politics.
Toomey said although he knew he would disagree with many decisions made by then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor, her intellect, experience, and integrity “clearly qualified her for the Supreme Court.” That’s why Toomey supported her nomination by President Obama in 2009.
“Unfortunately, during Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination process, some abandoned this sensible standard,” Toomey said. “Today, the worst possible claims about a nominee are considered disqualifying by some, despite the absence of any corroborating evidence, because they disagree with the nominee’s judicial philosophy.”
Toomey said “sexual assault is a terrible crime that is sadly far too prevalent in our society.”
He added: “We need to take seriously allegations of sexual assault, while at the same time providing due process to those who are accused of misconduct.”
“My sincere hope is that all of my colleagues will seek to do the important work of restoring trust and civility in politics,” Toomey continued. “The advice and consent role of the Senate for nominees would be a good place to start.”
‘Extreme hard right’
Casey, who is seeking a third six-year term in the Senate in a race against U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, issued a statement in July stating he would oppose the Supreme Court nominee. That was before President Donald Trump even nominated someone, and the move drew heavy criticism from Republicans.
During a recent meeting with the Times Leader editorial board, Casey explained why he expressed his opposition so early in the process.
He said the president released a list of 25 names of possible nominees that was compiled by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.
“These are both extreme hard right groups,” Casey said. “This process should be more mainstream.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.