Merkley hopes to stop Kavanaugh nomination with lawsuit
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley has filed a lawsuit that seeks to halt the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The injunction — filed on Wednesday, Sept. 26 — doesn't pertain to the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct during Kavanaugh's high school and collegiate years. Instead, Merkley argues that officials have unlawfully withheld documents from Kavanaugh's years as a lawyer and staff secretary during the administration of President George W. Bush.
"The events of the past ten days have only underscored how critical it is that the Senate conduct a careful and comprehensive review of a nominee before giving its consent," Merkley said in a statement. "But this President has gone to lengths never seen before to make sure we can't do that job."
The lawsuit names as defendants President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.
Merkley claims they allowed William Burck — the lawyer and personal friend of Kavanaugh who has screened all of the judge's documents — to withhold hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. In total the suit cites three major acts of alleged interference.
Democratic senators have been given access to about 42,000 pages of Kavanaugh's documents from the Bush White House era, but they were released just hours before the start of Kavanaugh's original confirmation hearing.
The suit appears to be the first-of-its-kind and some critics say it is merely political theatre.
When asked by reporters in the capital if a senator had ever filed such a lawsuit before, Merkley responded: "I'm not aware of such a precedent."
In a report, the left-leaning website Vox ultimately declared the possible injunction a "long shot" that "probably won't work."
The 44-page suit, which you can read in full here, also targets Secretary of the Senate Julie Adams and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger as indispensable parties in producing the documents.
"The President and Mitch McConnell want to ram through this nomination come hell or high water, without real advice or informed consent by the Senate, but that's just not how our Constitution works," Merkley said in a statement.
Kavanaugh will likely reshape American jurisprudence for decades if he wins a lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court. The lawsuit was filed in Federal Court for the District of Columbia.