The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold their hearing on President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday.
Many liberals fear that, if confirmed, Kavanaugh — nominated by Trump in July to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy — will push the Supreme Court rightward.
Conservatives have expressed more mixed opinions on Kavanaugh, with some hailing him as an excellent choice while others hold reservations about his actual ideological reliability.
Here are four things to look out for as Kavanaugh goes before the Senate. They include questions on abortion, religious liberty, swing votes, and complaints over the speed of the process.
Complaints Over Process
When Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced on Aug. 10 that the committee hearing on Kavanaugh would be on Sept. 4, many Democrats objected over what they viewed as a rushed process.
Democrats sent several requests to the National Archives to view the full records of Kavanaugh's five years in the Bush administration, arguing that they do not have sufficient information on the nominee.
"We need these documents to do our job," stated Committee member Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, as quoted by Roll Call in August. "We will be ready to go to court. I still have hope that they will in fact comply."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York claimed that Republicans were trying "to make this the least transparent, most secretive Supreme Court nomination in history."
"They seem to be more frightened of this nominee's record and history than any we've ever considered," stated Schumer, as quoted by Politico.
For his part, Grassley has stated that the committee already has nearly a quarter of a million documents about Kavanaugh's work in the Bush administration, and have both sufficient time and resources to prepare for the Sept. 4 hearing.
"Most are already publicly available, and we're working to make the vast majority of them publicly available as quickly as possible," stated Grassley, according to Roll Call. "We have plenty of time to review all these materials before the hearing."
A major point of contention over the Kavanaugh nomination is the circuit court judge's position on abortion and whether or not he will be key to the overturning of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
"There's no way to sugarcoat it: with this nomination, the constitutional right to access legal abortion in this country is on the line," stated Dawn Laguens, executive vice president for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, earlier this year.
"The balance of the Supreme Court is at stake — we cannot allow it to be tilted against the constitutional right to access abortion. Generations of women, especially women of color, will be affected."
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser stated in July that Kavanaugh "is an experienced, principled jurist with a strong record of protecting life and constitutional rights."
"President Trump has made another outstanding choice in nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, keeping his promise to nominate only originalist judges to the court," said Dannenfelser.
As the issue of abortion has been a major point of past hearings on Supreme Court nominees, questions on how Kavanaugh would rule on an abortion case will likely turn up.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine held a one-on-one meeting with Kavanaugh in August, telling reporters that the nominee had told her that he believed Roe v. Wade was "settled law."
"We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law. He said that he agreed with what [Chief Justice John Roberts] said at his nomination hearing, in which he said that it was settled law," said Collins.
In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission that a Christian baker named Jack Phillips was wrongly punished for refusing on religious grounds to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
As other potential cases are going through the courts on the extent to which Christian business owners can refuse service on the basis of religious objection, expect many questions to come to Kavanaugh on religious liberty issues.
As a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2006, Kavanaugh has weighed in on a few cases regarding religious freedom.
In one case, he concluded that a group of Protestant Navy chaplains who filed a lawsuit arguing that the Navy's retirement system gives preferential treatment to Catholic chaplains lacked the standing to sue.
In another, Kavanaugh dissented against a majority opinion that rejected the pro-life group Priests for Life's appeal, writing that the refusal contradicted the results of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College v. Burwell.
"We are a lower court in a hierarchical judicial system headed by 'one supreme Court.' U.S. Const. art. III, § 1. It is not our job to re-litigate or trim or expand Supreme Court decisions. Our job is to follow them as closely and carefully and dispassionately as we can," wrote Kavanaugh.
"Doing so here, in my respectful view, leads to the conclusion that the plaintiff religious organizations should ultimately prevail on their RFRA claim, but not to the full extent that they seek."
For many in and out of the Senate, the decision as to whether Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court was decided even before President Trump made his announcement.
Case in point, the Women's March organization, who accidentally released a statement on Kavanaugh's nomination that included "XX" where Kavanaugh's name was supposed to be.
"In response to Donald Trump's nomination of XX to the Supreme Court of the United States, The Women's March released the following statement," read the first sentence.
However, a few of the Senators have not yet confirmed how they will vote for the nominee. Following her one-on-one meeting with Kavanaugh in August, Collins said that she had not committed to either voting for or against Kavanaugh, explaining she has "always waited until after the Judiciary Committee hearings before rendering a final decision on a Supreme Court nominee."
According to CNBC, there are three Democrat Senators who are considered swing votes: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
The three previously voted to confirm Gorsuch and are running for re-election in states Trump won in 2016, which may pressure them to break with their fellow Democrats, explained CNBC.