WASHINGTON: Confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will likely begin in September, a key US senator said Wednesday, amid a bitter battle over requests for documents from the judge's past.
"It seems to me like early September would be the earliest" for hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel's chairman Chuck Grassley told the Hugh Hewitt Show.
"If we could get this all done by October 1 when the Supreme Court starts its new fall session would be ideal."
Some Republicans had hoped the proceedings would begin in August -- normally a vacation month for the Senate -- but Democrats have slowed the process.
Trump's pick of Kavanaugh has thrilled his loyal base, other social conservatives, and those keen on reining in the administrative state.
Democrats have branded the 53-year-old nominee, who would replace retired justice Anthony Kennedy, as a deeply conservative jurist who would shift the court rightward, jeopardizing critical rulings on the constitutionality of abortion rights and the legality of Barack Obama's health care reforms.
Democrats have demanded documentation related to Kavanaugh's time in the Bush White House, where he served as a lawyer and then as staff secretary, an important position that controls the flow of documentation to and from the Oval Office.
But Republicans have requested only a portion of the records, leading Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to accuse Republicans of having "cast aside Democratic wishes for openness and transparency."
"It is such a break from precedent that you have to wonder: what are the Republicans hiding about Judge Kavanaugh's record?" Schumer asked on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Democrats wrote the National Archives requesting a broad set of the documents, using a letter with nearly the same language that was sent by both parties in 2010 seeking documentation about Obama's nominee Elena Kagan.
Grassley reminded Hewitt that the confirmation process typically takes between 65 and 70 days. Kavanaugh was nominated July 9.
Republicans hold a slim 51-49 Senate majority. But with Senator John McCain battling cancer back home in Arizona, a single Republican defection could sink Kavanaugh if all Democrats stand in opposition.