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Shaheen, Hassan call for changes to Supreme Court confirmation process

  • U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (right) and Maggie Hassan attended an event at the Farnum Center in Manchester on Tuesday to highlight how a bipartisan opioid bill that passed the Senate last week will benefit New Hampshire’s battle against the drug crisis. Paul Steinhauser / For the Monitor



For the Monitor
Tuesday, October 09, 2018

New Hampshire’s two U.S. senators say it’s time to find a “better way” to confirm nominees to the Supreme Court following the divisive and bitter Senate confirmation battle over associate justice Brett Kavanaugh.

But Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan downplayed talk by some fellow Democratic members of Congress to further investigate or even consider impeaching Kavanaugh, whose confirmation fight fueled bitter flames of partisanship between Democrats and Republicans.

“Politicization of the Supreme Court is not good for America,” Shaheen said Tuesday. “One of the most disturbing things about the whole process with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh was the partisanship and the politicization of the court that happened as a result of that.”

President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee was narrowly confirmed by the Senate on Saturday by a 50-48 vote. Only one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted in favor of Kavanaugh. And only one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, opposed the federal appeals court judge’s confirmation.

The vote came after a weeklong FBI investigation into multiple sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, who repeatedly denied the accusations. Many Democrats criticized the limited scope of the FBI probe as a “sham.”

“I am concerned that he got confirmed, but now it’s our job to move forward and I am hopeful that he will turn out to be the non-partisan judge that he says he wants to be,” Hassan said in an interview with the Monitor.

Both Hassan and Shaheen called for procedural changes.

“It is very important that we find a better way moving forward when it comes to nominations, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to do that,” Hassan said.

“I think we need to take a hard look” at the confirmation process, Shaheen said, “and do it differently in the future.”

Shaheen and Hassan spoke with the Monitor after teaming up at the Farnum Center in Manchester with health care providers to highlight how a bipartisan opioid bill that passed the Senate last week will benefit New Hampshire’s battle against the drug crisis.

Many Democrats in Congress vow that the fight over Kavanaugh isn’t over. Five Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee – including ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York – say they’ll investigate the sexual assault allegations facing Kavanaugh if Democrats win control of the House in November’s midterm elections.

Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey, a potential Democratic presidential contender, said in Iowa on Sunday that the possibility of impeaching Kavanaugh shouldn’t be taken off the table if his party retakes either the House or the Senate.

Shaheen was much more tempered.

“For now we need to put this to rest, we need to move on to try not to politicize the court,” she said.

But she didn’t close the door entirely to further investigation, hinting she might consider such a move “if there’s something that comes up in the future.”

Hassan said she hasn’t focused on whether Kavanaugh should be further investigated if the Democrats retake either chamber of Congress.

Maine boycott could benefit New Hampshire

Kavanaugh’s confirmation could temporarily boost tourism in the Granite State.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican and a crucial swing vote in the chamber who was one of three undecided Republicans on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, ended up being the deciding vote in favor of Trump’s high court nominee.

Hundreds of activists opposed to Kavanaugh’s confirmation now say they’ll protest Collins’s vote by boycotting Maine products and tourism, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Some of those who took to social media to call for a boycott discussed rearranging their travel plans to visit New Hampshire or Vermont instead of Maine.