On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) met with President Donald J. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and expressed his strong support. Most observers already expected that Shelby will vote to confirm Kavanaugh; but no one knows with certainty how Alabama’s other Senator Doug Jones (D) will vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Jones recently told a packed town hall in Hoover that he has not made a decision yet.
“Now I know all of you are wondering which way I lean on the Supreme Court,” Sen. Jones said. “I will be an independent voice for Alabama. I have a great concern of the partisan nature of the court as I believe we need an independent judiciary. I have not made a decision. Judge Kavanaugh has a very large body of work.”
The conservative Judicial Crisis Network and the Pro-Life group, the Susan B. Anthony list, have both been running commercials urging Alabama voters to call Jones and tell him to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. Jones, however, said that he will not be moved by the TV ads.
“It doesn’t matter how many TV ads run,” Jones said. “This is a nomination, not a political campaign.”
Senate Democrats have poured over Judge Kavanaugh’s decisions on the D.C. Appeals Court and have not really found a smoking gun to base their opposition on, other than he was appointed by Pres. Trump and they are resisting Pres. Trump. More recently Democrats in the Senate have been requesting documents, some of them still classified, from Kavanaugh service during the George W. Bush (R) administration where Kavanaugh was a White House Counsel for President Bush.
“I am hoping to get more White House documents,” Jones said. “Senator Leahy made sure all the nominee Elena Kagan’s records were delivered. It is not delaying, it is due diligence.”
Kavanaugh has met with a number of Senators recently including Shelby, Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia); but Jones has wanted to wait on meeting with Kavanaugh.
“I want my meeting with Judge Kavanaugh after the hearing,” Sen. Jones said. “I want to really talk to him not just a meet and greet.”
Sen. Manchin is the first Democratic Senator to meet with Kavanaugh and remains undecided even after his two hour meeting with the judge.
“Judge Kavanaugh and I had a productive meeting and talked about his experience, record and a variety of issues that will impact West Virginians, including his views on healthcare.” Sen. Manchin said. “The Supreme Court may ultimately decide the fate of pre-existing conditions protections for nearly 800,000 West Virginians and will personally impact everyone who knows somebody with a pre-existing condition. Right now, there is a pending lawsuit in federal court brought by 20 state Attorneys General, including the Attorney General of West Virginia, which would allow insurance companies to once again deny coverage to West Virginians with pre-existing conditions. As the Senator from West Virginia, I have a constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on a nominee to fill Supreme Court vacancies and I take that responsibility seriously. I think it’s irresponsible to announce your position minutes after the nominee is announced. I will not make a final decision on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination until I complete a thorough and fair examination of his candidacy in order to decide whether he should hold the position of Associate Justice on the highest court in the land, just as I did with Neil Gorsuch.”
Manchin, along with Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, were the only three Democrats who voted to confirm Pres. Trump’s previous Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch.
A recent poll showed that 54 percent of Alabamians support the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. Only 30 percent are opposed. Despite this, some Alabama Democrats are urging Jones to vote against Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Congressional Candidate Mallory Hagan (D-Opelika) said on social media, “I am supportive of Senator Jones, but I still wish to let him know that, as Alabamians, we expect him to vote NO for Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh. Please call his office.”
Hagan is a former Miss America who is challenging incumbent Mike Rogers (R-Saks) in the Third Congressional District.
Jones realizes that not everyone is going to be happy no matter what he does.
“This is what Howell Heflin taught me. I know I will disappoint some,” Jones said.
(Original reporting by the Alabama Media Group, ABC 33/40 TV, and Fox News contributed to this report.)