Rand Paul Says He’ll Back Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

(Bloomberg) -- GOP Senator Rand Paul said Monday he’ll vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after previously withholding his support over privacy concerns.

“After meeting Judge Kavanaugh and reviewing his record, I have decided to support his nomination,” Paul said in a tweet Monday. “No one will ever completely agree with a nominee (unless of course, you are the nominee). Each nominee however, must be judged on the totality of their views character and opinions.”

The Kentucky Republican said earlier this month that he strongly disagreed with Kavanaugh on the meaning of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. Paul has a reputation for defying Senate GOP leaders to make points on civil liberties and other privacy issues. He met privately with Kavanaugh last week, and said on Twitter he hopes the judge "will be more open to a Fourth Amendment that protects digital records and property."

Paul’s vote couldn’t be taken for granted in a Senate controlled by the GOP 51-49, with Republican Senator John McCain absence while fighting brain cancer cutting the majority in effect to 50. Two other Senate Republicans -- Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- support abortion rights and haven’t said how they’ll vote on confirmation. Kavanaugh is seen by abortion-rights supporters as a potential fifth vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge who previously served in President George W. Bush’s administration, drew Paul’s ire because of his past rulings backing the buildup in intelligence-gathering on Americans after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Paul filed a federal lawsuit in 2014 claiming that the government’s collection of phone records on hundreds of millions of Americans violated the Fourth Amendment. In 2016, Kavanaugh wrote an opinion with the opposite view in a separate case challenging the program, writing that “the government’s metadata collection program is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment.”

Kavanaugh plans to meet later Monday with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of three Democrats who supported Trump’s nomination last year of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

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