Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

A Viewer’s Guide to Kavanaugh Hearing

For those of you interested in following next week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, I offer some general day-to-day guidance. (I also encourage you to follow me on Twitter at @EdWhelanEPPC; I expect to be very active there.)

Tuesday, Sept. 4: The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30. Don’t expect any questioning by senators on this day. After Chairman Grassley opens the hearing, the day will proceed with opening statements of 10 minutes each by all 21 committee members (11 Republicans and 10 Democrats). So that’s 3-1/2 hours right there, not including lunch and other breaks, overage, and other down time. Kavanaugh will then be introduced to the committee by Condoleezza Rice, Senator Rob Portman, and Supreme Court advocate Lisa Blatt. And the first day will close—probably around 5 p.m.—with Kavanaugh’s opening statement.

Wednesday: First round of questioning begins. Each senator will have 30 minutes, and the questioning will alternate back and forth between Republicans and Democrats and in order of seniority. For those of you eager to watch your favorite (or least favorite) senator in action, that means: Grassley, Feinstein, Hatch, Leahy, Graham, Durbin, Cornyn, Whitehouse, Lee, Klobuchar, Cruz, Coons, Sasse, Blumenthal, Flake, Hirono, Crapo, Booker, Tillis, Harris, Kennedy. The first round will take 10-1/2 hours, so it might not be completed on Wednesday, but I gather that Grassley is going to try. Here’s my rough guess on how questioning will proceed:

Morning: Grassley, Feinstein, Hatch, Leahy, Graham

Afternoon: Durbin, Cornyn, Whitehouse, Lee, Klobuchar, Cruz, Coons, Sasse, Blumenthal, Flake

Evening: Hirono, Crapo, Booker, Tillis, Harris, Kennedy

Thursday: If the first round of questioning doesn’t end on Wednesday evening, it will end early on Thursday. The second round of questioning will then take place, with each senator having 20 minutes. In theory, that could mean another seven hours of questioning, but Republicans will probably waive some or all of their time (and some Democrats might do so as well). If necessary, a third round of five-minute questioning will take place. Kavanaugh’s testimony will finish on Thursday.

Friday: The committee will hear from four panels of witnesses, 28 witnesses in total (listed here). The panels will be ushered in and out very quickly, and nearly no one will be watching at this point.

[I’ve made changes to the original version.]

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