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Cornyn: Hearings contentious because court seen as ‘political’

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Wednesday that Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominations have become so contentious because elected leaders aren’t making final decisions on policy or value issues in the Congress.

The Supreme Court, he said, is where “most of the most contentious issues in society are resolved.”

“Let policy and value judgments be made in Congress,” he said. Voters can elect or unelect members of Congress if they are not satisfied.

“The court has been seen as political,” Cornyn, speaking on his weekly conference call with Texas news reporters, said.  “If you lose your vote in Congress,” you take it to the courts.

“That’s why we find ourselves where we are today,” he said.

In response to a question from The Port Arthur News, Cornyn said he personally is committed to treating everyone at nomination hearings in a “civil” and “dignified way.”

“All I can control is myself,” he said, and “sometimes not perfectly at that.”

Cornyn, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the committee must find some way to give the public access but must avoid the “anarchy” that leads to people being disciplined or ejected.

Cornyn, who has known Kavanaugh since 2000, said fears raised during the confirmation hearing that Kavanaugh would “single-handedly” overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that determined women had a right to an abortion, were “fantasy.”

“Roe v. Wade was decided a long time ago,” he said, although he added he thought the decision was made in error.

He said he looked forward to confirming Kavanaugh before the October term of the Supreme Court opens.

On other topics, Cornyn said:

• Democrats through campaign ads are falsely touting the idea that Obamacare is the “only way to deliver healthcare.” He said most members of Congress support healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions, but there are other models that could work in a free marketplace.

• The Senate is watching the progress of Hurricane Florence, which threatened to become the “storm of a lifetime.” He said Texans, who weathered Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey in 2017, “wish all of our friends in the Carolinas and in that part of the country well.”

• He was following the tropical disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico, which threaten Texas and could “exacerbate flooding.” He suggested that all Texans “exercise caution.”

• Spoke to the opioid crisis in the U.S. He said he and Sen. Dianne Feinstein had co-authored legislation on substance abuse prevention.

• Said he would speak on the Senate floor Wednesday about the flow of drugs to the U.S. through Mexico.