Sullivan talks with Kavanaugh, reaffirms support

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After the Alaska Federation of Natives sent a letter to Alaska’s U.S. senators opposing the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court justice, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan picked up the phone.

Before returning to Alaska for the weekend, where he was to receive a promotion to colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and speak at a Republican Party meeting, he called Kavanaugh and had a long talk, asking him about each of the concerns that AFN had brought forth.

Kavanaugh’s answers were more than acceptable, Sullivan said on Friday.

The senator found no shred of evidence that Kavanaugh holds any hostile view of Alaska Natives. In fact, Sullivan said Kavanaugh recognizes that Alaska Natives have been repeatedly recognized by Congress as indigenous people, with tribal status, whereas the Native Hawaiians have not been recognized in the same way by Congress.

The criticism that Kavanaugh would view Alaska Natives from a uninformed stance is not grounded in the judges’s actions or answers, Sullivan said.

The AFN letter was something Sullivan took seriously. He said not only are nearly 20 percent of Alaskans tied to a Native heritage, his wife and children are Alaska Native, so he takes these kinds of questions are not merely academic to him.

[Read: AFN chose to oppose]

“To be perfectly clear, If I believed or saw evidence that Judge Kavanaugh’s views were somehow opposed or hostile to Alaska Natives, a very important population to our state that happens to include my wife, and daughters and mother in law, I would not support his confirmation. Yesterday I asked him if he held such views. He said no and I believe him,” Sullivan said, after having a phone call with Kavanaugh that lasted over 30 minutes.

“I wanted to hear directly from Judge Kavanaugh on these issues because they are important to my constituents,” Sullivan said.

Regarding the Sturgeon case, which is a instance of a moose hunter trying to get access to hunting grounds, Sullivan said that Kavanaugh has made it clear that he knows Alaska is different, and has unique laws that apply, such as the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

“Congress has repeatedly made it clear, we are different and we need to be viewed through that lens,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said many Alaska Native leaders were in D.C. last week and he had met with several of them.

“I just wanted to say I am listening, hearing this, I said it was important enough. And [AFN] is a very important organization,” he said.

Regarding something called the Indian Commerce Clause, Sullivan said that Kavanaugh has never had a case that deals with that, because he’s been in the D.C. District Court, where few of these cases are ever brought. The last justice confirmed, Neal Gorsuch, had served in the 10th Circuit, and therefore had a clear record where he had ruled in favor of tribes vs. the federal government. Kavanaugh assured Sullivan that he would be an independent voice on the court regarding how the commerce clause is interpreted.

Sullivan said he gave Sen. Lisa Murkowski a call and debriefed her on the conversation he had had with Kavanaugh.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the nomination on Thursday.

5 COMMENTS

  1. How reasonable is that? Sen. Sullivan picks up the phone and makes a call! This is a very personal issue to the Senator. He literally sleeps with it. He briefed Lisa. Lisa can also make that call too I am sure, but glad he schooled her up. Now hopefully she will do the right thing for Alaska and not cave to this ridiculous chatter from AFN and CCTHITA, et. al. Good job Sen. Sullivan.

    • Good reply to this article.
      A US Senator has to have a broader vision than just the needs of her/his state. This confirmation will influence the interpretation of our laws for decades and cannot be based on individual pressure groups from within one state. Those issues need to be dealt with in the state senate, not the US Senate.

  2. A US Senator has to have a broader vision than just the needs of her/his state. This confirmation will influence the interpretation of our laws for decades and cannot be based on individual pressure groups from within one state. Those issues need to be dealt with in the state senate, not the US Senate.
    I’m grateful for Sen. Sullivan’s faithfulness on this issue and am confident that Sen. Murkowski will demonstrate the same wisdom.

  3. Sen Lisa reportedly said Sunday that the Judiciary Committee “should consider” delaying the Kavanaugh vote. Really? The Dems have had this bogus allegation in their pocket since July, but didn’t raise it during the hearings & waited until the weekend before the vote to release it. A 30 year old memory from a left wing partisan California professor? The poor victim never discussed this incident until now. But Sen Lisa wants to follow the Democrats’ lead and delay the vote.

    The Alaska Republican party “should consider” finding a conservative alternative to Zero Murkowski at the next opportunity. Lisa is a terrible Senator.

    Dear Alaska Republicans: Please find somebody solid to replace Lisa next election. I’ll contribute.

    • Tom, ditto. Diane Feinstein has perched on this little nugget since summer? The SCOTUS nominations have now become weaponized. This has NOTHING to do with a sexual assault and EVERYTHING to do with derailing a Republican nomination. If your daughter came to you last July and said “daddy, that man attacked me and tried to rape me”. What would you do Tom? Sit on that intel for a few months? I doubt it. The #metoo movement started out as one that empowered women to speak out and speak up about sexual assault and harassment they have experienced and finally come of the darkness. Now it has become a caricature. Remember Clarence Thomas’ words about the high-tech lynching. Pretty powerful stuff.

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