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Walker opposes Kavanaugh confirmation as Supreme Court justice

  • Author: Annie Zak
  • Updated: September 20
  • Published September 20

Alaska's governor and lieutenant governor on Thursday said they oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh's record "does not demonstrate a commitment to legal precedent that protects working families," Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, a Democrat, said in a statement. They are running for re-election this year.

"Key aspects of our nation's health care and labor laws may be at risk if Mr. Kavanaugh receives a lifetime appointment," the statement said. "Mr. Kavanaugh's appointment could also jeopardize the Indian Child Welfare Act, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and other laws that enable tribal self-determination due to his overly narrow view of the relationship between federal and tribal governments."

Confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh — President Donald Trump's pick to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy — were completed this month. But the Senate is now weighing allegations against Kavanaugh from Christine Blasey Ford, who says he sexually assaulted her in the 1980s when they were in high school.

Walker and Mallott addressed the sexual assault allegations in their statement.

"We believe a thorough review of past allegations against Mr. Kavanaugh is needed before a confirmation vote takes place," they said. "Violence against women in Alaska is an epidemic. We do not condone placing someone into one of our nation's highest positions of power while so many key questions remain unanswered."

Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat who is running for governor this year, also opposes Kavanaugh's confirmation, calling the nominee a "serious threat to Alaskans' rights" in a Sept. 7 post on Facebook.

Brett Kavanaugh is a serious threat to Alaskans’ rights. His record shows that he is wrong about worker's rights, wrong...

Posted by Mark Begich on Friday, September 7, 2018

Begich also said on Twitter this week: "I didn't need another reason to oppose Kavanaugh's nomination, but for those who have been silent or sitting on the fence, it is time to speak out. Christine Blasey Ford, I hear you."

Begich criticized Walker Thursday on Twitter, saying it shouldn't have taken him "this long to stand up for Alaskans, but glad to see him finally putting Alaskans ahead of partisan politics."

Regarding the sexual assault allegations, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said this week on Twitter that the Judiciary Committee "must look into this further." She is expected to be a crucial vote in whether Kavanaugh is confirmed.

A spokeswoman for Murkowski did not immediately respond Thursday afternoon to questions about how she is planning to vote.

Republican former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy is also in the race for Alaska governor. Daniel McDonald, a spokesman for Dunleavy's campaign, did not directly answer the question — asked multiple times on Thursday — of whether Dunleavy supports confirming Kavanaugh.

McDonald sent a statement from Dunleavy, via text, that said: "This is an unfolding event with many moving parts, but an established process exists to fully vet Supreme Court nominees. I have every confidence in our delegation and the process to do right by Alaskans and the American people."

McDonald also sent along a statement from July 9 in which Dunleavy said he was "very optimistic" about Kavanaugh's prospects for being confirmed, because of his record as a judge.

Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan in July announced his intention to support Kavanaugh. This week on Twitter, he said "allegations of sexual assault should be taken seriously." A spokesman for Sullivan did not immediately respond Thursday afternoon to questions about how the senator plans to vote.

The Daily News also reached out to a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, who is running for re-election, for comment on his position on Kavanaugh.

Alyse Galvin, the independent candidate challenging Young for Alaska's U.S. House seat, said in an emailed statement that if Alaska's senators asked where she stood, she would tell them it "would be a mistake to rush to confirm" Kavanaugh.

"Judge Kavanaugh is opposed to protections for people with pre-existing conditions, as well as Native sovereignty," she said. "Speaking as a woman, I agree with Sen. Murkowski that Dr. Ford's allegations should be taken seriously, and that it's the Senate's job to do a thorough investigation before we grant someone a lifetime appointment on our nation's highest court."

Daily News reporter Tegan Hanlon contributed reporting. 

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