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Brett Kavanaugh White House emails released by Cory Booker cite Cleveland voucher case

September 7, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh White House emails released by Cory Booker cite Cleveland voucher case

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the legality of Cleveland’s school voucher system was cited in emails to and from current Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh released Thursday by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

Booker, a potential Democratic presidential candidate who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the committee’s Republicans improperly designated the documents he released as “confidential,” when they illuminate Kavanaugh’s thinking on hot-button issues like racial profiling and affirmative action.

“The public has a right to access documents about a Supreme Court nominee’s views on issues that are profoundly important, such as race and the law,” Booker said as he released the emails. “This process has demonstrated an unprecedented level of secrecy and opaqueness that undermines the Senate’s Constitutional duty to advice and consent.”

A few of the emails that Booker released referred to a 2002 Supreme Court decision that allowed public money to be spent on tuition vouchers that Cleveland students were using to attend religious schools The decision said Cleveland’s voucher program didn’t violate a constitutional prohibition against promoting religion because religious schools were among a variety of secular and religious options available to parents who were frustrated with the city’s public schools.

False. Chairman @ChuckGrassley has offered to make sensitive documents available for weeks, but some were too busy grandstanding or calling colleagues “complicit in evil” to take him up on it before hearings started. Except one. https://t.co/qqBhqktWlehttps://t.co/1O6HejSdk6— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) September 6, 2018

Current U.S. Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco - who was then an associate legal counsel to President George W. Bush - sent Kavanaugh an email about the decision’s wording on the day it was issued. At that time, Kavanaugh also worked in the White House counsel’s office.

Francisco commented that the decision left “open the application of vouchers in towns like where I grew up, where you either go to a neighborhood public school or a Catholic school: one could argue that in such a case, vouchers give relatively little choice to parents other than the Catholic school.”

Kavanaugh replied: “excellent. is that a reaffirmation of statements by the Court in prior cases.”

Francisco responded that the decision legitimized religiously neutral government aid programs that citizens could direct to religious schools “wholly as a result of their own genuine and independent choice.” He said that appeared to be “a very significant development in the law.”

Spokesmen for Republicans on the Judiciary Committee disputed Booker’s contention that the documents he released were confidential, saying they’d previously cleared them. Booker’s GOP colleagues accused Booker of grandstanding for a future presidential run.

“Clearly he is running for president, and in the Democrat primary, you’ve got to be able to appeal to the far left,” South Dakota GOP Sen. John Thune told Fox News.