MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will vote to restrict abortion rights if he wins a spot on the high court, Wisconsin attorney general hopeful Josh Kaul predicted Thursday.
Kaul, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Republican Brad Schimel in November's elections. He said during a question-and-answer session at a Madison luncheon that Kavanaugh would move the court "significantly to the right on some important issues, including ... the right to choose."
He said there's every reason to believe Kavanaugh will vote to restrict abortion rights and overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
He noted that Kavanaugh was on a list of Supreme Court nominees put forward by the conservative Federalist Society, essentially certifying them as appropriately conservative for President Donald Trump. He added that Trump wants to nominate judges who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.
"Judge Kavanaugh was selected through a process the goal of which was to select a nominee that was extremely conservative," Kaul said.
At his confirmation hearings in Washington this week, Kavanaugh hasn't said where he stands on Roe vs. Wade, only calling it "important precedent."
Kaul also accused Schimel of mishandling a state Department of Justice investigation into prisoner abuse at Wisconsin's youth prison.
Former prisons secretary Ed Wall has said he asked the state DOJ to investigate in early 2015, but the agency initially assigned only two agents on a part-time basis to the case. The FBI took over the investigation at the end of 2015. The probe is ongoing.
Kaul said state and federal investigators regularly work on joint cases. Schimel's decision to drop out of the probe wasn't effective because the state still doesn't have a resolution, he said.
An audience member asked Kaul if he could do anything to change how the state draws boundaries for its legislative districts. Democrats contend that Republican lawmakers drew the lines unfairly to solidify their hold on majorities in the state Senate and Assembly. Schimel has defended the boundaries all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kaul said the attorney general has a duty to defend state laws and he doesn't fault Schimel for defending the district lines in court. But he said if he was attorney general, he would advocate for changing the way the state draws the line to avoid costly litigation.
Kaul renewed previous attacks on Schimel for being too slow to test thousands of unanalyzed sexual assault evidence kits, not imposing fines on polluters, delays in testing evidence at the state crime labs and creating a solicitor general's office to handle "highly partisan" lawsuits.
Schimel's campaign manager, Johnny Koremenos, who attended the luncheon, said afterward that Kaul was misrepresenting Schimel's record.
Schimel has said it has taken time to inventory the sexual assault kits and find private labs willing to test them. He also said he's been able to leverage other concessions from polluters.
He has defended the crime lab and the solicitor general's office, saying scientists are dealing with a deluge of submissions and the solicitor general's office is made up of high-performing attorneys.