Government

New justice will be a 'firewall' for freedom, Senator Scott tells Iowa Republicans

S.C. senator thinks GOP still the party of Lincoln

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann (left), U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (center), R-S.C., and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speak during a state party fundraiser Friday, at the Holiday Inn-Des Moines Airport. (Photo by Erin Murphy/Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau)
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann (left), U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (center), R-S.C., and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speak during a state party fundraiser Friday, at the Holiday Inn-Des Moines Airport. (Photo by Erin Murphy/Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau)

DES MOINES — U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said he thinks a new U.S. Supreme Court justice will provide “a firewall” to protect freedoms over the next decade or more.

Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, was the keynote guest at the Republican Party of Iowa’s fundraising dinner, held Friday evening at the airport Holiday Inn ballroom in Des Moines.

During a chat with state party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Scott was asked if the Republican Party still is the party of Lincoln.

Scott, who is black, said it was, because the Republican Party still fights for freedom.

Those freedoms, he said, will be protected by the Supreme Court if Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nomination to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, is confirmed.

“Our nation will have a firewall in the Supreme Court that I believe will be there, by God’s grace, to protect the freedoms as our nation battles for the next decade or so (over) what should be the DNA of America,” Scott said.

Republicans, who hold a slim 51-49 majority in the U.S. Senate, hope to confirm Kavanaugh before this November’s midterm election.

It would be the second high court appointment made by Trump since he took office last year.

The first, Neil Gorsuch, replaced a fellow conservative justice, Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. Republicans stalled that confirmation until after the election, blocking Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee.

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Kavanaugh’s nomination would place another conservative justice on the court, but this time replacing Kennedy, who sometimes voted with the Supreme Court’s liberal justices, including in some landmark rulings.

Kaufmann and other Republican speakers throughout the evening urged supporters to do the work necessary for the party to be successful in the November election. They stressed in particular the race for Iowa governor: Republican Kim Reynolds, who took over last year when former Gov. Terry Branstad was named U.S. ambassador to China, faces Democrat Fred Hubbell and Libertarian Jake Porter.

Kaufmann and Scott both professed the party’s support for Trump. Kaufmann said the state party stands behind the president “100 percent,” and Scott credited Trump for an improving U.S. economy.

Scott noted Iowa’s 2.7 percent unemployment rate, which he said should pressure wages to increase as employers have a more difficult time finding workers. He credited Trump for providing opportunity and optimism.

“Folks are excited about this current economy, and it has been brought to you by a president who is unabashedly putting America first,” Scott said.

Scott also credited Trump with one of the longest stretches of economic expansion in the nation’s history, although that started in mid-2009 and thus also encompassed the majority of Obama’s tenure.

Scott acknowledged concerns over an escalating trade war between the United States and multiple countries, saying, “If we can just get our trade right, ... I’m confident we’re going to make it right.”

Roughly 400 people attended Friday’s party fundraiser, organizers said.

l Comments: (515) 422-9061; erin.murphy@lee.net

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