Murkowski meets with Kavanaugh as Alaskans weigh in on both sides

Published: Aug. 23, 2018 at 2:07 PM AKDT
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Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R- Alaska, met with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at her Washington, D.C. office Thursday, ahead of the confirmation process for the Trump pick to the nation’s top court.

In her announcement of the meeting, earlier this week, Murkowski said her approach to vetting Kavanaugh has been “similar, if not identical, to the approach I took for Justices Gorsuch, Kagan, Sotomayor, Alito and Roberts.” Murkowski said she’d look at the judge’s work, opinions and his backround.

She said she looked forward to asking him “in detail about a wide range of topics – his knowledge of the unique issues and laws affecting Alaska, executive powers, privacy issues, women’s reproductive rights, healthcare, and the role of precedent,” Murkowski wrote in the release.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which neither Murkowski nor Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, R, are members of, will hold a multi-day hearing to consider Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sept. 4.

Alaskan activists flew to the Capitol overnight to tell Murkowski what they thought of Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Leighan Gonzales, says she wants Murkowski to consider people like her with pre-existing conditions – she was born with a hole in her heart. She’s worried about the impact Kavanaugh could have on health care laws. “I’m concerned about not knowing enough about his record and that the hearings are being pushed forward too quickly,” Gonzales said.

Carl Wassilie, a Yupik Alaska Native, said he met with Murkowski to express his concerns. “As an Alaska Native person, it’s very concerning, considering the history of Kavanaugh’s activist judgment on the far right, that threatens the very lives and subsistence activities of people that are dependent on the nutritional, cultural and physical survival of fish, and Rural Alaska is at threat.”

He said after his meeting with Murkowski, he thought the senator had a very neutral stance and lots of questions for the nominee.

A couple weekends ago in Anchorage, Alaskans rallied outside Murkowski’s office in favor of confirming Kavanaugh. One of the rally’s organizers, Sherry Wright, said having a pro-life stance is good in her book, but beyond that, Kavanaugh’s support for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the second amendment and state sovereignty had her hoping Murkowski would lean toward confirmation.

In a written statement released after the meeting, Sen. Murkowski said the two spoke about a range of topics of concern of Alaskans.

"From privacy to precedent, executive power, vouchers, Indian law, and healthcare, including women’s reproductive rights and protections for pre-existing conditions – we had a substantive conversation," Murkowski said, in part. "It also was important that I seek Judge Kavanaugh’s understanding of the unique legal issues that arise in Alaska. I also appreciated the opportunity to gain more insight into his judicial philosophy."

Channel 2's Washington reporter Ted Fioraliso contributed to this report.