In this Sept. 6 file photo, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh waits to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the third day of his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The #MeToo movement faces a dramatic test of its impact and staying power as U.S. senators assess sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. (AP Photo | J. Scott Applewhite)

In this Sept. 6 file photo, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh waits to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the third day of his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The #MeToo movement faces a dramatic test of its impact and staying power as U.S. senators assess sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. (AP Photo | J. Scott Applewhite)

Walker opposes Kavanaugh confirmation

Governor, lieutenant governor cite health care, Native issues and sexual assault allegation

Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott issued a joint statement Thursday declaring their opposition to the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Though state governors don’t have a role in confirming U.S. Supreme Court justices, President Donald Trump’s selection of Kavanaugh has become a decisive issue for many voters in this fall’s general election. Independent incumbent Walker is being challenged in his bid for re-election by Democrat Mark Begich, Republican Mike Dunleavy and Libertarian Billy Toien, and all have expressed their opinions about Kavanaugh’s appointment.

Walker issued his statement through official channels rather than campaign ones, however, making opposition to Kavanaugh the official policy of the governor’s office.

In the statement, Walker and Mallott said they oppose Kavanaugh’s appointment because “key aspects of our nation’s health care and labor laws may be at risk if Mr. Kavanaugh receives a lifetime appointment.”

They added that “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” and raised concerns about allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh.

“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,” the Walker-Mallott statement said.

The statement was not entirely unexpected. In a Tuesday interview on statewide public radio, Walker said he was leaning against the confirmation and had spoken to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, about his concerns. While fellow Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan has previously voiced support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Murkowski is one of a handful of senators who has not committed for or against his confirmation.

Walker has previously declined to express an opinion on the Supreme Court issue. When Kavanaugh was named as a nominee in July, Walker issued a statement noting that he has “limited influence over the Supreme Court confirmation process.”

Begich has consistently opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination, and he took to Twitter shortly after the announcement: “It shouldn’t take (Gov. Bill Walker) this long to stand up for Alaskans, but glad to see him finally putting Alaskans ahead of partisan politics. Where’s (Mike Dunleavy)?”

Dunleavy has consistently supported Kavanaugh’s appointment, saying in a July statement that “I’m very optimistic about his prospects for being confirmed.”

By phone late Thursday, Toien said he is also opposed to Kavanaugh’s appointment.

“I am opposed to the appointment of Kavanaugh because he leans more to precedent than he does to the original meaning of the Constitution, and to me, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, not precedent,” he said.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


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