By Lawrence Hurley
A senior adviser to President Donald Trump on Sunday said new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will move past his bruising confirmation battle and apply the law fairly, while a Democratic senator said he is tainted by the experience.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said on ABC’s “This Week” that the focus should turn from Kavanaugh’s combative testimony and toward his 12 years as a respected appeals court judge in Washington.
Kavanaugh was sworn in late on Saturday amid protests at the court after he was narrowly confirmed in a 50-48 Senate vote but with questions raised from Democrats and liberal groups as to whether he will be a partisan justice.
“The Supreme Court, thank God, is a sacrosanct institution that can withstand much,” Conway said.
Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono, also speaking on “This Week,” said Kavanaugh reaches the court “with a huge taint and a big asterisk after his name.”
“The partisanship he showed was astounding,” she said.
Some Democrats have indicated Kavanaugh could face investigations or even potential impeachment if they win control of the House and possibly the Senate but Hirono distanced herself from those demands, saying she was focused on the November congressional elections.
Kavanaugh fought back with a blistering partisan attack at a Sept. 27 Senate hearing on Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he had sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. He described the allegations as a “calculated and orchestrated political hit” masterminded by Democrats and left-wing groups.
Although Trump had pledged to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion, Conway said Kavanaugh had said during his confirmation hearing that it was “settled law.”
But Conway said Trump’s campaign promise had not been broken. With various abortion-related cases pending in lower courts, Conway conceded litigation that could curb abortion rights without overturning Roe will reach the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation means the nine-justice court now has a solid 5-4 conservative majority that is likely to move the court further to the right as it rules on contentious issues such as abortion, immigration, transgender rights, industry regulation and presidential powers.