Yeomans: If Kavanaugh Is Confirmed, He Must Recuse

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Carolyn Bobb

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 10, 2018 – In the latest edition of Yeomans Work,  AFJ Justice Fellow Bill Yeomans writes that the “Supreme Court depends for its legitimacy on the public’s acceptance that its nine robed, lifetime-tenured members decide cases on the basis of the law, rather than their own policy or partisan preferences…The confirmation process increasingly tests whether any distinction between legal and political outcomes survives as Senators grill nominees about ‘judicial philosophy.’  Republicans seem heedless of this concern as they barge ahead, intent on truncating the process for considering Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, while a cloud hangs over the president and his nominee.”

As Yeomans notes, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley has signaled that he wants confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh in September — well before the National Archives can finish reviewing and releasing records on Kavanaugh that Grassley himself requested. Writes Yeomans:

“Republicans have three probable reasons for their rush.  There is a real possibility they may lose their majorities in the House and Senate in November.  They are afraid of what may emerge from the documents, particularly the large trove of Staff Secretary documents from years when Bush – with Kavanaugh at his side — was dealing with, among other things, torture, Guantanamo, other detainees, warrantless surveillance, the Iraq war, reproductive choice restrictions, civil rights controversies, and the politicized firing of U.S. Attorneys.   Finally, Republicans, including Trump, may want Kavanaugh on the Court to protect the President.”

Yeomans maintains that the GOP-led Senate must not push ahead with a hearing and confirmation without obtaining and reviewing Kavanaugh’s full record. But if that should happen, he says, one thing is vital: “For the sake of the Court’s legitimacy, Senators also must press Kavanaugh for a commitment to recuse himself from matters related to Trump’s legal troubles.”

Yeomans Work focuses on the challenges to the justice system in the era of  Trump. Bill Yeomans is available for media interviews. Contact Laurie Kinney, Communications Director, at or 202-464-7367.