Stiff contest expected for Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation
Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by Trump to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
(CNN) - Confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, are set to begin Tuesday morning.
Republicans and Democrats are already drawing battlelines
The confirmation battle over a coveted seat on the nation's highest court kicks off with Kavanaugh expected to face a grilling from senators about his views on everything from abortion rights to whether a sitting president can be indicted.
Some Democrats in the Senate, like Dianne Feinstein of California, have already expressed skepticism.
"He believes that a president cannot even be investigated, if you will. Let alone convicted while he's in office,” she said.
Democrats have accused Republicans of ramming the nomination through.
They expressed outrage over the weekend about the Trump administration withholding more than 100,000 pages of records from Kavanaugh's time as a White House lawyer under President George W. Bush, calling it a "document massacre."
"This isn't normal,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN. “It isn't normal because we are not able to see 100,000 documents … because the administration said we can't see them. They have exerted their executive power."
Republicans have said a record number of more than 400,000 pages have been turned over to the Judiciary Committee. But Democrats contend that key documents from Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary to Bush and other records are being withheld.
"There has been more concealment of documents concerning his public service and his position on issues than ever in the history of the United States,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, said.
Democrats plan to cast the conservative judge as untrustworthy, pointing to e-mails they said show he played a larger role in controversial issues during Bush’s War on Terrorism than he let on in his testimony over a decade ago.
Still, Republicans are confident Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
It would cement a solid conservative majority that would swing the Supreme Court to the right in key areas like abortion rights.
"We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law. He said that he agreed with what Justice Roberts said at his nomination hearing, in which he said that it was settled law,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME.
But that's providing little comfort to Democrats, who plan to emphasize how he could still chip away at the landmark ruling.
Kavanaugh was nominated by Trump to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The hearing is expected to last three to four days.
He needs just 50 Senate votes to be confirmed. Republicans, with 50 seats, can confirm him with a united caucus, as they did for Justice Neil Gorsuch last year.