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Sen. Booker defies GOP secrecy and dares Republicans to expel him

Releases confidential records and accuses Kavanaugh of lying about Roe v. Wade

The Senate confirmation hearings for Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh turned explosive Thursday when Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) confronted Republicans by releasing confidential Senate documents that imply Kavanaugh is lying about his views on Roe v. Wade.

At one point, after Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-TX) read aloud a Senate rule authorizing expulsion of members who violate Senate confidentiality rules, Sen. Booker shot back, “Bring it. Bring the charges.”

Several other Democratic senators joined Booker in confronting the Republicans presiding over the confirmation process, chaired by Sen. Grassley (R-IA), which Booker has called a “sham.”

Kavanaugh was a Republican Party political operative who was rewarded by President George W. Bush with a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for his party work, which included working with special prosecutor Ken Star on Bill Clinton’s impeachment and working in support of Bush’s torture policies. Republicans have withheld over 100,000 documents relating to Kavanaugh’s White House work and released 42,000 documents Sunday night only hours before his confirmation hearing began, then rejected Democratic requests for a postponement to study the documents.

In Thursday’s heated developments, Booker made public emails by Kavanaugh which Republicans have sought to keep secret by designating them “confidential.” The most explosive is a 2003 email in which Kavanaugh, then a legal adviser to Bush, argued Roe v. Wade is not settled law, and suggested it could be overturned.

Conservatives have sought for years to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision that enshrined abortion as a constitutional right under the rubric of privacy rights. (The Constitution doesn’t mention privacy; Roe v. Wade is also the decision that found an implied right of privacy in the Constitution’s language, so an attack on the decision also could put at risk basic privacy rights recognised by courts since then.) They’ve never had the Supreme Court votes to do so.

Lacking the votes on the high court to overturn Roe, anti-abortion Republicans have chipped away at the ruling by trying to restrict abortion and hobble abortion providers as much as they could. Meanwhile, anti-abortion activists picketed abortion clinics, and a few resorted to violence by torching clinics and assassinating abortion doctors. One, Paul Hill, was executed by Florida in 2003 for murdering a doctor.

Republican state legislators have passed unconstitutional laws as a tactic to get the Supreme Court to revisit the Roe case. All these efforts have failed, but Democrats and reproductive rights activists fear Kavanaugh, if seated on the Court, will provide abortion foes with the 5-vote majority needed to reverse the 45-year-old ruling.

Lower courts are required to follow Supreme Court precedents; the Supreme Court itself typically adheres to its prior rulings, but is not bound by them, and there have been historical instances where it has overturned its own precedents. Probably the most famous of these was Plessy v. Ferguson (1898), which upheld segregation; it was overturned by the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 that desegregated America’s public schools, which President Eisenhower enforced by sending federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas.

Common arguments for overturning prior Supreme Court rulings are the case was either wrongly decided or society has changed in ways that make its rationale no longer viable. The anti-abortion movement in the U.S., which is largely driven by the personal religious beliefs of its supporters, is based on the notion that abortion is morally wrong; and seeks to impose its beliefs on society at large. The pro-abortion movement refers to itself as “pro-choice” and is based on the assertion that of women are entitled to freedom to control their own bodies.

Republicans presently hold a narrow 51-49 vote majority in the Senate, and the final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation is expected to be close, possibly coming down to a single vote. He would be confirmed by a party-line vote in which all Republicans voted for his confirmation and all Democrats voted against it, but 2 or 3 Democrats facing re-election in states won by Trump are considered possible “yes” votes, while Democrats are seeking to flip two female Republican senators who have publicly supported abortion rights — Sen. Collins of Maine and Sen. Murkowski of Alaska — into the “no” column, although both recently signaled they’re likely to vote for Kavanaugh. His confirmation hearings boil down to a battle for the hearts and minds of this handful of senators from both parties.

In the days leading up to the confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh called Roe v. Wade “settled law,” implying that while he might support greater restrictions on abortions and abortion providers, he would not vote for overturn. The confidential documents released Thursday by Sen. Booker appear to suggest he’s lying. They show while working as a White House counsel, he supported overturning and argued that Republicans should try to seat a majority of Supreme Court justices willing to do so.

Read more here.

Photo: Police remove a protester. There have been dozens of arrests at Kavanaugh’s raucous confirmation hearing.

 

 

 

 

 


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