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Cortez Masto to vote against Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto talks to guests after the 22nd Annual Tahoe Summit at Sand Harbor State Park on Aug. 7, 2018. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto announced that she will vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee.

“After carefully reviewing Judge Kavanaugh’s record and listening to his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have determined that his stance on a woman’s right to choose is extreme and disqualifies him from a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” she said in a release.

Her decision was first reported by 8 News Politics NOW co-host Steve Sebelius.

Cortez Masto had been holding off on a deciding how to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination until she met with him to talk about his legal opinions and thoughts on jurisprudence. But after being questioned for two days by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cortez Masto reached the conclusion that she could not support him, including concern over whether Kavanaugh thought Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in all states in 1973, was settled law.

“From his challenge of Roe v. Wade as ‘settled law’ during his time as a White House attorney to his far-fetched dissent denying a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant in detention from accessing an abortion, I have no doubt that his confirmation would tip the balance of the Supreme Court to end Roe v. Wade and imperil American women’s reproductive freedom.”

In her release, Cortez Masto did not mention the allegation that Kavanaugh sexually attacked a girl during high school, which has thrown his nomination into question.

Kavanaugh’s role in the case, Garza v Hargan, with the undocumented, unaccompanied teenage girl was particularly troubling for Cortez Masto.

His decision in the matter was the only significant case he oversaw that dealt with abortion in his 12-year career as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In the case, a 17-year old undocumented immigrant sued the federal government after being denied access to an abortion while in custody in Texas. The matter ended up in Kavanaugh’s court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, after the government appealed a temporary restraining order to allow the girl to have the abortion. He issued an order that would have delayed the teenager’s access to an abortion by 11 days and would not guarantee that she could access abortion. Rather, it said that she would have to start her case all over again, and that the government could appeal. This could have taken weeks and would have pushed her even further into her pregnancy, and possibly over the 20-week deadline stemming from a Texas ban on abortion once a fetus reaches the 20-week mark.

Her decision to oppose Kavanaugh was not entirely surprising. Speaking to The Nevada Independent on the nomination last week she said, “My reading of just the Garza case alone concerns me and it should concern anyone who has issues, just in general, about reproductive freedom.”

Kavanaugh’s order was ultimately overturned by the full appeals court. He wrote a dissent that argued that the ruling amounted to “a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. Government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand.”

Cortez Masto disagreed with his reasoning. “You don’t need to be an attorney to understand how he, I think, misread the issue in the case,” she said last week. “I think he was wrong and, clearly, he was overturned. So that’s one of the cases that I absolutely want to sit down and talk to him about.”

Republican Sen. Dean Heller has signaled that he supports Kavanaugh, who prior to being a judge served in the George W. Bush White House and helped write the Starr Report, which made the case for impeachment against President Bill Clinton.

Despite the new allegation against Kavanaugh, Senate Republican leaders are pushing ahead to try to confirm him by the end of the month. The accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has been invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, but it is unclear if she will accept. The accuser has instead called for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into her claim before appearing before the panel. Neither Heller nor Cortez Masto serve on the committee.

However, some Republicans, including Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, have said that the Senate should move forward with voting on the nomination if she declines to appear.

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