Warner Announces Intention to Vote Against Kavanaugh

Virginia senator cites opposition to nominee's views on abortion and executive power

Sen. Mark Warner (Getty Images)
September 11, 2018

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner became the latest Democrat on Tuesday to signal his intention to oppose Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Warner, a former governor of Virginia who is serving his second term in the U.S. Senate, announced he could not vote for confirmation because of the nominee's views on abortion, health care, and "executive power."

In a statement elaborating on his decision, Warner said the Trump administration had undertaken "unprecedented efforts" to "conceal large portions" of the nominee's record in order to secure confirmation. The senator also castigated Kavanaugh for what he interpreted to be an "unwillingness to answer basic questions" surrounding his judicial philosophy.

"This is the most consequential Supreme Court vacancy in a generation, yet it has been the least transparent confirmation process in recent history," Warner said. "Thanks to unprecedented efforts by the Trump Administration to conceal large portions of Judge Kavanaugh’s record and the nominee’s unwillingness to answer basic questions before the Judiciary Committee, much of Judge Kavanaugh's record and judicial philosophy remain a mystery to the American people. But what we have seen provides reason enough to vote against this nominee."

Warner said the nominee's prior rulings and conduct before the Senate Judiciary Committee led him to form the "inescapable conclusion" that if Kavanaugh were to ascend to the nation's highest court he would "undermine" abortion rights and "fail" to prevent abuse "by insurance companies."

"His past rulings, writings, and evasive answers before the Judiciary Committee lead to the inescapable conclusion that, as a Supreme Court justice, Judge Kavanaugh would seek to undermine and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, and would fail to protect people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination by insurance companies," the senator said

Adding his concerns about Kavanaugh’s views on executive power–especially in light of speculation that President Donald Trump may choose to fire special counsel Robert Mueller–Warner concluded he "must vote no."

"I am also deeply troubled by Judge Kavanaugh’s views on executive power," Warner said. "For all these reasons, I must vote no on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination."

The senator's arguments against the nominee closely mirror those of progressive activists and others affiliated with the Democratic Party. In recent weeks, such activists have accused Kavanaugh of seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade if appointed to the Supreme Court, despite the nominee's assurance he viewed the matter as "settled" law.

Warner's announcement comes one day after both New Hampshire Democratic senators unveiled their opposition to Kavanaugh. To date, an overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats have expressed plans to vote against the nominee, including Warner's seatmate from Virginia, Sen. Tim Kaine.

In July, Trump nominated Kavanaugh, a widely respected jurist on the U.S. Court of Appeals, to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Kennedy, who chose to retire after a tenure spanning three decades, had long been recognized as the institution's lone swing vote preventing either the conservative or liberal factions from becoming permanently dominant. If confirmed, Kavanaugh may alter the balance of the Supreme Court in favor of an outright 5-to-4 conservative majority, the first since the New Deal era.

Despite opposition from many on the left, Kavanaugh is widely expected to be confirmed to the high court before the November elections.