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Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Sunday that Republicans will refrain from launching the same kind of “grotesque smear campaigns” against President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee that the Democrats did against “fine” justices like Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.
Cotton, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” host Dana Perino that Biden’s pick for the High Court, which he has promised will be a Black woman, will be vetted only by her qualifications.
“I suspect we’ll all keep an open mind. We will review the nominee on her merits,” Cotton said. “I can’t say that I’ve got wild expectations that Joe Biden is going to nominate someone who I think I can support or many Republicans can support, because I’ve seen dozens of his nominees to the lower courts, and they’ve almost, to a person, been left-wing ideologues who think judges should make the law, rather than apply and uphold the Constitution and the laws as they are passed.
“I can say one thing that I won’t do, and I doubt any Republican will do,” he continued, “is engage in the kind of grotesque smear campaigns against the character of fine men like Clarence Thomas, stories we saw like what happened with Brett Kavanaugh two years ago. We’ll give a thorough vetting into any nominee’s legal philosophies, as well as their career, and their character and their temperament.
“But we’re not going to do what Democrats do, which is simply make up smears against a nominee. And I hope that never happens again,” he added.
Cotton made the comments after watching a clip of Vice President Kamala Harris, then a senator from California, grilling Kavanaugh during his controversial confirmation hearings in 2018.
Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed to the court after facing an allegation of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, which he vehemently denied.
Harris and progressive Democrats like Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., joined protesters in opposing Kavanaugh’s appointment outside the Supreme Court at the time.
Meanwhile, Biden was criticized by Thomas himself for his conduct as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman during Thomas’ controversial confirmation process in 1991.
In a recent interview for the documentary “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” Thomas said he had gone through life believing the people who would be “problematic” toward him as a Black man were the “bigot in the pickup truck… the Klansman [or] the rural sheriff.”
“But it turned out that through all of that, ultimately the biggest impediment was the modern-day liberal,” he said. “They were the ones who would discount all those things because they have one issue or because they have the power to caricature you.”
Biden last week promised to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court after Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement.
Possible nominees include U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.
Fox News’ Charles Creitz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.