Jon Kyl has been tapped by the Arizona governor to fill John McCain’s empty Senate seat. Kyl, a former Senator himself, retired in 2013. Now, he reportedly promises to serve out at least to the end of the year, according to early reports.
This means that Kyl will have a say in whether Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh passes confirmation in the Senate or not.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Kyl Was Tapped to ‘Guide’ Kavanaugh Through the Senate
According to Roll Call, Kyl was tapped to “guide” Kavanaugh through the ins and outs of the Senate leading up to this confirmation hearing. This includes “arranging for Kavanaugh to be interrogated on all sorts of ‘gotcha’ questions at mock confirmation hearings known as ‘murder boards,'” David Hawkings of Roll Call writes.
Fox News reports that Kyl is taking part in a long tradition of Supreme Court nominees being given “sherpas” to make their way through and better understand the Senate confirmation process. Via his role of “sherpa,” Kyl has reportedly been the one to arrange meetings between Kavanaugh and other senators.
The position, though not technically official, doesn’t seem to be that covert, either. Fox News reports that previous sherpas (on either side of the partisan aisle) have included Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who was the sherpa for Justice Samuel Alito, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who was the sherpa for Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
2. Kyl Has Made Very Few Public Comments on Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Process
Kyl has not made much public commentary on Kavanaugh’s confirmation process so far, which makes sense given that he was technically retired from the Senate from the moment Kavanaugh was tapped by Trump up until this point.
However, it’s likely that Kyl’s opinion of Kavanaugh will be one of the first thing reporters ask about in the coming days.
To Hugh Hewitt, Kyl said of Kavanaugh, “[Kavanaugh] was nominated back in July of 2003, and he certainly should get a vote, and will be on the floor, I think, not too long thereafter.”
3. Kyl Has Been Described as a ‘Foe’ to Roe v. Wade
Kyl has been described as a “foe” to pro-choice organizations like Planned Parenthood as well as legislation like Roe v. Wade as the result of his staunch record as an opponent of abortion rights in the past, per the Phoenix New Times.
In 2011, Kyl said of Planned Parenthood, “You don’t have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol or your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”
Planned Parenthood has maintained that abortions comprise 3% of its services.
4. Kyl Has Not Shied Away From Calling Out Trump for Being ‘Boorish’
Though it looks likely that Kyl will vote in favor of appointing Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court bench, he has not always been a strong supporter of the Trump administration’s agenda.
In an interview with radio station KJZZ, Kyl said of Trump, “I don’t like his style. I think it is boorish. I think he’s own worst enemy. He could be much more effective if he were more politique, more diplomatic — of course that’s one of the things that people like about him — the fact that he isn’t that way. But I think there’s a happy medium.”
5. McCain Was Likely to Vote for Kavanaugh, So Kyl’s Appointment Isn’t Likely to Affect the Final Vote
Though some senators might have seen McCain’s vacant seat as an opportunity to win over a senator to the side against Kavanaugh’s nomination, Kyl is likely to follow in the footsteps of McCain and vote in favor of Kavanaugh.
Prior to his death, McCain said of Kavanaugh that he had “impeccable credentials” and was a “fair, mainstream judge.”
Via Washington Examiner, McCain said, “Over the course of Judge Kavanaugh’s impressive legal career, he has built a reputation as a fair, independent, and mainstream judge who has earned widespread respect from his peers. One of the Senate’s highest constitutional responsibilities is to provide advice and consent on nominations to the Supreme Court, and I look forward to the Senate fulfilling this critical duty through a fair and thorough confirmation process.”