Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced on Monday he will support the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
The Kentucky Republican had previously expressed concerns about Kavanaugh’s stance on the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which bans “unreasonable” searches and seizures by government officials. In 2015, for example, 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, which allowed the government to track Americans’ metadata.
“I disagree completely,” Paul said of Kavanaugh’s ruling earlier this month.
But after meeting with Kavanaugh last week in his office for over an hour, and after reviewing his caseload, Paul said he hoped the conservative judge “will be more open to a Fourth Amendment that protects digital records and property.”
“Of course, my vote is not a single-issue vote, and much of my reading and conversation has been in trying to figure out exactly how good Judge Kavanaugh will be on other issues before the Court,” Paul said in a statement released by his office on Monday. “My conversation with Judge Kavanaugh reinforces my belief that he will evaluate cases before the Supreme Court from a textual and originalist point of view.”
He added: “I believe he will carefully adhere to the Constitution and will take his job to protect individual liberty seriously.”
Paul, a libertarian-leaning critic of U.S. interventions abroad, also said he found Kavanaugh’s views on war powers and separation of powers “encouraging.”
Paul has garnered a bit of a reputation in the Senate for his loud but ultimately brief stands against Trump nominees. Earlier this year, for example, he pledged to block Trump’s pick of Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department over the nominee’s support 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 Paul’s vote now safely in the “yes” column, the chances of Kavanaugh’s confirmation are looking like more of a safe bet. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) still remain undecided on his nomination, but they have both signaled comfort with the judge. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), meanwhile, is meeting with Kavanaugh on Monday, and he too is expected to back the judge’s nomination.