As House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) contends with a growing push among his fellow Democrats to move toward impeachment proceedings against President Trump, he finds himself receiving incoming on another front. A leading progressive group is demanding that the congressman get moving on unearthing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s past positions on abortion.
In April, Demand Justice, a progressive organization focused on the nation’s judiciary, sent a letter to Nadler along with a host of other groups, asking him to request documents from the National Archives that could reveal prior stances Kavanaugh had taken on the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling while he was serving in the George W. Bush administration.
Now, in order to bring further pressure on Nadler, Demand Justice is planning to launch digital ads in Manhattan directed at the congressman, which will focus on seeking those Kavanaugh documents. According to Demand Justice executive director Brian Fallon, they haven’t gone live yet and details are still in the works, but the ads could be pegged to the anniversary of Kavanaugh’s nomination on July 9.
The ad campaign is coming in the wake of a number of states around the country passing draconian abortion laws restricting abortion access and setting up potential legal challenges to Roe—challenges designed to make their way to the Supreme Court. That timeframe has put additional pressure on progressive groups to try and illuminate Kavanaugh’s full record on the matter, in hopes of potentially applying some political pressure before a case makes it to his chamber.
Democrats had attempted to do this during Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle itself. In August of 2018, the National Archives denied a request from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for non-public records from Kavanaugh’s tenure as staff secretary in the Bush administration, citing a legal opinion from the Justice Department that these sorts of requests could only emanate from committee chairmen. A lawyer for former President Bush released 42,000 pages of documents related to Kavanaugh’s tenure in that White House just before the hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination were set to begin.
During his hearings, Kavanaugh did not disclose his personal view but said: “I understand the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade. It has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years.” But what was in the public record suggested that his position on Roe being settled law wasn’t firmly held. The New York Times reported in early September that he had written in a 2003 email: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land.”
A recent poll conducted on behalf of the liberal group Take Back The Courts suggests that Democrats would be on solid ground in aggressively pursuing the Kavanaugh documents. According to the poll, which was shared with The Daily Beast, 58 percent of respondents said “yes” when asked if the National Archives should release the remainder of its documents pertaining to Kavanaugh, while 27 percent said “no” and 15 percent said “not sure.” The survey was conducted from May 31-June 3 with YouGov’s online panel and included 1,057 U.S. voters weighted to be representative of the population of voters by age, race/ethnicity, sex, education, U.S. Census region, and 2016 vote choice.
Additionally, when respondents were asked if Kavanaugh should be impeached if those documents revealed that he had perjured himself during his confirmation process. The survey showed that 58 percent said “yes,” 23 percent said “no,” and 19 percent said “not sure.”
“Trump isn’t the only predator that Speaker Pelosi is refusing to impeach,” Sean McElwee, director of research and polling with the group, told The Daily Beast. “It’s time for Democrats to perform their basic oversight duties and review documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House. The nation deserves to know whether Justice Kavanaugh perjured himself during his confirmation hearings.”