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Justice Kavanaugh's actions in Trump executive-power cases to be of special note

Retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy administer

Retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy administer the judicial oath Saturday to his successor, Brett Kavanaugh, while Kavanaugh's wife, Ashley Estes, holds the Bible. Credit: U.S. Supreme Court via EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock/Fred Schilling

Confirmation bias?

As part of a 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh will vote on dozens of cases that set the Trump administration against Democratic-run states on issues that include auto-emission rules, internet neutrality and immigration enforcement.

After his 50-48 Senate confirmation vote, Kavanaugh became the second nominee of President Donald Trump to join the Supreme Court in two years. Although he already took his oath in private, an official inauguration ceremony is set for the White House on Monday evening.

Kavanaugh's bitter remarks during his confirmation hearings, assailing "left-wing opposition groups" and 2016 election fallout, could come up when legal arguments are heard, and even raise recusal questions.

His first issue on the high court could involve whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Justice Department official John Gore must be deposed in lawsuits challenging placement of a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census form, reports Politico.

Parties face Brett-lash

The question posed for the congressional midterm elections is whether protests of Kavanaugh's nomination will help rally Democratic or Republican voters.

Both sides of the duopoly are spinning it as you'd expect.

But The Wall Street Journal quotes analysts saying the gender-laced confirmation fight helps the GOP majority in the Senate and helps Democrats in the House.

The reasoning: Most Senate battlegrounds are in states where Trump is popular, but most House battlegrounds are in suburban districts more opposed to the president.

Meanwhile, Kavanaugh's show of emotion at the hearings helped keep what was initially expected to be a solid Republican vote in line, The New York Times suggests.

Winners: McConnell and Bush

In the end, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) presided over what was for him a clear political victory. On the floor, he called the Kavanaugh confirmation "a vote to end this brief, dark chapter in the Senate's history and turn the page toward a brighter tomorrow."

So on Sunday he took to the airwaves to reinforce the message. As Newsday's Scott Eidler describes here, McConnell boasted that "the Senate's not broken" and "Republicans stood up to the mob," a term Trump used to slam all Kavanaugh critics during a weekend rally.

The new associate justice once served as associate counsel and staff secretary to former President George W. Bush, who successfully lobbied Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to cast what proved to be a key vote in Kavanaugh's favor.

Trump and the tax man

Tax lawyer Charles Rettig, who for decades was a private-sector warrior against the IRS for well-heeled clients, began work last week as Trump's IRS commissioner.

Confirmed last month, he arrived just a day before the Times portrayed real-estate heir Trump and his family members as deceptively dodging millions in taxes in the 1990s.

Rettig is well aware his new boss is the first president in a generation to decline the accepted practice of releasing his own income tax forms. In early 2016, when Trump was claiming he couldn't release them because of a long-running IRS audit, Rettig wrote for Forbes: "Would any experienced tax lawyer representing Trump in an IRS audit advise him to publicly release his tax returns during the audit? Absolutely not."

Now, however, Rettig is in a position to at least find out if what Trump asserted about an audit is true — and if so, how to deal with it.

What else is happening:

  • Trump made acid remarks about Democrats, including some trademark name-calling, as well as unsupported claims about the weekend protests, during a speech in Kansas.
  • International intrigue focused on the fate of a Saudi dissident journalist who reportedly entered the nation's consulate in Istanbul and never came out.
  • Interpol announced Sunday that it had accepted the resignation of its president, Meng Hongwei, who disappeared in China in late September.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) did not buy McConnell's support by being the lone senator from his party to vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation.
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) rolled into Iowa for a speech that fed presidential speculation.

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