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Murkowski says it was Kavanaugh’s temperament — not Alaska Native issues or abortion — that swayed her vote

  • Author: Kyle Hopkins
  • Updated: October 5, 2018
  • Published October 5, 2018

It wasn't that he might overturn Roe v. Wade or allow insurance companies to avoid covering pre-existing medical conditions. And she doesn't think he'll be a threat to Alaska Native rights and institutions.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said during a floor speech late Friday that she's voting against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh because of his temperament. Even when placed in the hot seat, Murkowski said, "A judge must act in all times in a matter that promotes public confidence."

Kavanaugh drew criticism for sometimes sharp exchanges with questioners last week as he denied accusations of sexual misconduct. While supporters said his emotion was understandable given the nature of the accusations, Kavanaugh wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he "might have been too emotional at times" during testimony.

"I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said," Kavanaugh wrote. "I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad."

Murkowski, the only Republican to oppose Kavanaugh in a procedural vote earlier Friday, said deciding how to vote on the nomination has been a "horrible" process.

She said she spoke with Kavanaugh directly and considers him to be a "good man." But she is voting her conscience, she said, and does not support his nomination.

"It is as hard a call as any that I can ever remember," Murkowski said, lamenting toxic partisanship that has engulfed the debate. "I am really worried that this becomes the new normal where we find new and even more creative ways to tear one another down. That good people are just going to say, 'Forget it. It's not worth it.'"

The Alaska Federation of Natives opposed the nomination because AFN said his views on Indian policy might be a threat to Native institutions. Murkowski said she did not share that concern after speaking with Kavanaugh regarding his views on Alaska Native tribes.

As many people lose faith in the executive branch – including the Trump and Obama administrations – and lose faith in Congress, the judiciary must be held to the highest standards, Murkowski said.

"Even in the face of the worst thing that could happen, a sexual assault allegation. Even in the face of an overly and overtly … political process, politicized process," Murkowski said. "And even when one side of this chamber is absolutely dead set on defeating his nomination from the very get-go. Even before he was even named. Even, even in these situations, the standard is that a judge must act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence."

The Associated Press reported that Murkowski will state her opposition to Kavanaugh but vote "present" as a courtesy to Kavanaugh supporter Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. In that way, the outcome of the vote will not change but Daines will be able to attend his daughter's wedding on the day of the vote.