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Interest Groups Turn Up Pressure on Senators Before Kavanaugh Vote

Category: Political News,Politics

But conservative advocacy groups are counting on those three senators to vote in favor of Judge Kavanaugh, just as they voted in favor of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch last year. Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative advocacy group, is running a $600,000 advertising campaign to pressure the three to announce their opposition, said its chief counsel and policy director, Carrie Severino.

“We know that Senator Schumer has asked them not to come out one way or the other as long as they can,” she said, referring to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “But we think that they’ve had a good opportunity now to hear Judge Kavanaugh, and they shouldn’t delay things right now just to help Senator Schumer’s electoral plans.”

In Alaska, a key constituency of Ms. Murkowski’s — Alaska Natives — are lobbying the senator to oppose Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation, flying to Washington and sending letters listing a series of concerns, chief among them the judge’s views on indigenous rights. The Alaska Federation of Natives, the largest statewide native organization, will meet with Ms. Murkowski on Wednesday.

The issue was raised during the judge’s confirmation hearings by Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, who released previously secret emails in which Mr. Kavanaugh questioned Native Hawaiians as a protected group. Ms. Hirono also grilled him on a separate opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal in 1999 titled, “Are Hawaiians Indians? The Justice Department Thinks So,” in which the nominee stated opposition to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Those comments have left Alaska Natives deeply worried.

“We view ourselves in solidarity with our native Hawaiian brothers and sisters,” said Richard J. Peterson, the president of the Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes. “The fact that he questions their validity tells us that he is going to do the same with us.”

Mr. Peterson, who wrote a letter on behalf of his tribe to Ms. Murkowski urging her to oppose the confirmation, said that the more than 30,000 constituents he represents largely “felt we were O.K.” with Justice Gorsuch’s confirmation. But when it comes to Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination, he said, “we have some pretty grave concerns.”

At the top of many Alaskan Natives’ list of concerns is how Mr. Kavanaugh would rule on a case poised to appear before the Supreme Court that could endanger federal protections that ensure subsistence fishing rights for Alaska Natives.


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