Donald Trump

US Senator Cory Booker, risking expulsion, releases Kavanaugh emails on racial profiling amid Supreme Court questioning

Booker released the George W Bush-era emails despite potentially being removed from the Senate, with other Democratic senators saying they stood with him

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 11:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 6:25am

US Senator Cory Booker has released confidential documents that he says reveal Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s approval of racial profiling during his time in President George W Bush’s White House. Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, did so at the risk of expulsion from the Senate.

“As I’ve been saying from the beginning, this process has been a sham,” Booker said in a statement on Thursday, the third day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He added: “The public has a right to access documents about a Supreme Court nominee’s views on issues that are profoundly important, such as race and the law.”

As Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas read aloud from rules stating that a senator who discloses “the secret or confidential business” of the Senate could be “liable ... to suffer expulsion”, Booker responded by saying: “Bring the charges.”

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Booker received support from his colleagues, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Richard Blumenthal, who told Cornyn: “Apply the rule, bring the charges. All of us are ready to face that rule.”

“This is about the closest I’ll ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” Booker said.

Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii also tweeted in support of Booker, saying: “Yesterday, I referred to a ‘Committee confidential’ document where Judge Kavanaugh questioned the validity of programs that benefit Native Hawaiian programs, and by extension, Alaska Natives. If you're coming after @SenBooker for releasing these documents, count me in.”

Hirono released Kavanaugh emails that showed him questioning the constitutionality of programs for Native Hawaiians. “I defy anyone reading this to be able to conclude that it should be deemed confidential in any way, shape, or form,” she said.

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On Wednesday night, Booker questioned Kavanaugh about racial equality and the treatment of minorities, including laws that allow race to be considered in university admissions and hiring.

The senator quoted from an email in which he said Kavanaugh, then one of President George W Bush’s aides, expressed approval for racial profiling at airports after the September 11 attacks and described a policy to advance minority businesses as a “naked racial set-aside.”

Booker asked for Kavanaugh’s opinions on racial profiling now, but was opposed by Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, who complained that the email in question had not been made public.

Almost 200,000 pages of White House documents are currently designated as “committee confidential” and available only to the senators. Democrats say that designation has previously been used only for much smaller batches of documents.

Also on Thursday, a newly disclosed 2003 email, separate from the messages Booker released, but also deemed “committee confidential”, reveals that Kavanaugh has questioned whether Roe v. Wade – the 1973 case that affirmed the constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion – is settled law

Kavanaugh’s 2003 comments came as he was reviewing an op-ed article in support of two judicial nominees while he was working in the Bush White House, according to the document.

“I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so,” he wrote, referring to justices at the time, in an email to a Republican Senate aide. The document is partially redacted.

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The tone is different from Kavanaugh’s remarks during the confirmation hearings stressing how difficult it is to overturn precedent like Roe.

The hearings are expected to continue on Friday with testimony from outside witnesses presented by committee Republicans and Democrats.

The Judiciary Committee is likely to vote on confirmation on September 20, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is aiming for a full Senate vote before the court begins its new term on October 1.

Protesters repeatedly interrupted the hearing by shouting messages opposing Kavanaugh. Capitol police said they arrested 73 people in the hearing room or other parts of Senate office buildings, after arresting 70 a day earlier.