The GOP Sets Up Narrow Window for Kavanaugh Confirmation

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley with his young friend Brett Kavanaugh. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In his wandering manner, and using his favorite venue, Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley provided an educated guess on the timeline for the planned confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s the essential ramble from Grassley, which you should read merely because of how hilariously impenetrable it is:

[T]he earlier, the better, and if these documents coming from the archives and from George W. Bush’s presidential library and other things get up here soon, then the sooner the better, we can have a hearing. But we normally take, let me give you some sort of a ballpark rationale for what I just said. July 9th, the nominee is appointed by the President. Then usually, 65-70 days on average, Kagan took about 80-some days. So about two-thirds of that time would be used for staff and senators going over everything that we have on a particular candidate, and then you have a week of hearing. So you hope to do it on a Tuesday and Wednesday, or it might be a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and then you’re going to have a day that week for people that are for Kavanaugh and people that are against Kavanaugh, and then there’ll be a week for him to answer questions in writing, because not every question is going to be asked orally. And then he’s put on the agenda, and our rules allow a person to be held over. So probably two weeks from the time he gets all the questions answered, he’d be debated in our committee, voted out the same day, then probably within two days, go to the Senate floor. So if we could get this all done by October 1st when the Supreme Court starts its new fall session, would be ideal. But I think we can get it done soon after that if we don’t get it done by October 1st.

Politico assigned someone fluent in Iowan to parse all this and came up with a distillation:

Grassley’s forecast that hearings on President Donald Trump’s nominee will slip until next month gives the GOP a narrow window in which to meet their goal of getting Kavanaugh confirmed and seated on the high court by the time its term starts in early October.

It seems Republicans are confident Democrats won’t even try to stretch the timetable in hopes of delaying a final vote until after the election out of fear that its own vulnerable red-state senators will lose critical time on the campaign trail.

But you never know. As we learned with the Clarence Thomas saga, strange, unexpected developments have been known to come up during SCOTUS confirmations. Republicans have not given themselves any margin for error in the timing of their drive to place Kavanaugh on the Court, and if the process drags on until just before — or even after — the midterm elections, the political dynamics could change. Assuming Senate Republicans continue to fall into line on this critical appointment, an October Surprise may be the best hope Democrats have for derailing Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The GOP Sets Up Narrow Window for Kavanaugh Confirmation