Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is once again threatening to withhold support for one of President Donald Trump’s nominees.
Paul on Sunday declared himself “undecided” on Trump’s nomination of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Paul, appearing on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” said he is “concerned” about Kavanaugh stance on the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which bans “unreasonable” searches and seizures by government officials.
“At this point I’m undecided [on Kavanaugh]... I am somewhat persuaded to have an open mind because this is President Trump who did such a good job” with nominating Neil Gorsuch to the high court last year,” Paul said. “I am worried, though, and perhaps disappointed that I think Kavanaugh will cancel out Gorsuch’s vote on the Fourth Amendment.”
In 2015, Kavanaugh wrote a concurring opinion to a District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruling affirming the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s warrantless phone records collection program. The program had allowed the government to track Americans’ metadata ― information about who a person calls, but not what was said.
The judge wrote that the “critical national security need outweighs the impact on privacy,” and declined to rehear a case challenging the program under Fourth Amendment grounds.
“I disagree completely,” Paul said Sunday of Kavanaugh’s ruling.
Gorsuch ruled several times against law enforcement and in favor of privacy protections while serving on the Denver-based U.S. 10th Circuit Court.
Earlier this year, Paul pledged to do “whatever it takes” to stop Trump’s pick of Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department over the nominee’s views on the Iraq War. But Paul ended up voting for Pompeo after receiving “assurances” from Trump that the former CIA director now believes the war was a mistake.
With the GOP controlling the Senate by a narrow margin, 51-49, the party can ill afford to have Paul break with Trump on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
In his Sunday comments, Paul said he was looking forward to meeting with Kavanaugh and having a “frank” discussion with him.
“There are 10 amendments listed in Bill of Rights, so the Fourth Amendment’s one of them, so we’re already down one. Let’s see how he does on the other nine,” Paul said.
While he expressed doubts about how much lawmakers can glean from Supreme Court nominees during interviews with them, he said, “I think it’s worth [Kavanaugh] hearing that I don’t think anybody in America believes when you use a cell phone company, or when you use [a credit card], or when you use a bank, that somehow you’ve given up your right to privacy.”
Correction: Paul appeared on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” not “Fox News Sunday.”