Government

Iowa GOP senators back Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation

State Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) speaks as State Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) and State House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights) look on before the Condition of the State address in the House Chamber at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
State Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) speaks as State Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) and State House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights) look on before the Condition of the State address in the House Chamber at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — All 29 members of the Iowa Senate Republican caucus have signed a letter supporting the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.

“Judge Kavanaugh has spent many years working to improve the lives of others and working to protect the rights of private citizens, while strictly interpreting the laws and our Constitution as they were written,” according to the letter signed by Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, and 28 others. “He will be an advocate for freedom for the people of the United States and an outstanding addition to the Supreme Court.”

The GOP holds a 29-19-1 majority in the Iowa Senate, where there is one open seat.

The letter is addressed to Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and a former Iowa lawmaker. Grassley supports confirmation of Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee. The first, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April 2017.

The letter follows one from four Iowa Democratic legislators that was coordinated by the Reproductive Freedom Council. Referring to the “extraordinary stakes of this generation-defining moment,” those lawmakers called Kavanaugh’s expected confirmation a threat to Roe v. Wade and legal abortion.

The Iowa Republicans said they believe Kavanaugh will interpret laws written by elected lawmakers rather than write law from the bench.

“During our work in the Iowa Senate, we consistently focus on laws that will expand and protect freedom for the people of Iowa,” the GOP senators wrote. “We spend a lot of time working on the language and the policy, making sure we get it just right” so that if they are challenged in court “the judges who preside over these cases determine the constitutionality of the laws passed by the people’s elected representatives.

“We firmly believe the role of a judge in our government is to interpret the law as it is written,” the letter continued. “Judge Kavanaugh has a long record of doing just that and interpreting the Constitution as it was originally intended.”

Grassley echoed the Iowa senators’ views in a statement on Friday.

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“Judge Kavanaugh is a superbly qualified nominee who understands the difference between a judge and a legislator,” Grassley said. “He judges based on the facts of the case, the law and the Constitution, without regard to preferred policy or political outcomes.”

Grassley plans to begin hearings on Kavanaugh’s confirmation after Labor Day.

“My committee continues to thoroughly examine Judge Kavanaugh’s record, including his 12 distinguished years on the D.C. circuit court of appeals, using the most transparent process in history,” Grassley said. “I look forward to his hearing next month when both Republican and Democratic senators will have the opportunity to question him.”

The committee now has more than 248,000 pages of executive branch material related to Kavanaugh. The previous high-water mark for similar material during consideration of Supreme Court nominees was roughly 180,000 pages related to Gorsuch.

Area senators who signed the letter include Waylon Brown of St. Ansgar, Michael Breitbach of Strawberry Point, Jeff Edler of State Center, Craig Johnson of Independence, Tim Kapucian of Keystone, and Dan Zumbach of Ryan.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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