ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Almost a year after the fateful vote on the republican healthcare bill, Alaska’s senior senator Lisa Murkowski is once again in the spotlight following President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh’s nomination to replace retiring justice Anthony Kennedy will need to be confirmed by the Senate, and with Republicans holding only a thin majority, Murkowski could be a deciding vote. The Senator on Tuesday told CNN it’s too early for her to know which way she’ll vote.
“I don't have an impression on judge Kavanaugh as to where he may fall on the issue of abortion, as well as the many other issues that I will weigh as we move forward with this process,” Murkowski said, “So again, that's why I think all of us need to be doing our due diligence.”
Kavanaugh has already won support among many conservatives, including both of Alaska’s republican gubernatorial candidates, Mike Dunleavy and Mead Treadwell.
“Kavanaugh may have the ability to vote on Sturgeon vs Frost, the Alaska hovercraft case that goes before the Court this fall, and could very well be the pivotal vote to ensure Alaskans have the ability to enjoy the public lands and waters we have, against federal overreach,” Treadwell said Monday night in a written statement.
But the bigger unknown is currently centered around Kavanaugh’s so far undisclosed position on abortion rights and the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade.
During his confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court in 2006, he said:
“If confirmed to the DC circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent,” he said at the time. When pressed for his opinion on that case, he responded, “The Supreme Court is held repeatedly Senator, and I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to give a personal view on that case.”
Nonetheless, groups like the ACLU of Alaska have demanded Kavanaugh go on the record with his position on Roe v. Wade before his confirmation vote. The organization recently paid for a six-figure TV ad placement, urging Murkowski to vote against “Trump’s anti-choice picks” for the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, pro-life groups like Alaska Right to Life say they’re cautious about the nominee.
“We don’t have a real good sense of what to expect from him as a Supreme Court justice, so we’re cautious there,” said outreach director Patrick Martin. “Alaska Right to Life wants to make sure and urge both Senators Murkowski and Sullivan to confirm a justice that recognizes the personhood of the child in the womb.”
Kavanaugh reportedly met with Vice President Mike Pence and Senate leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday morning. McConnell is expected to push for a confirmation vote in the senate sometime in the fall, ahead of the mid-term elections.