U.S. Sen. Doug Jones undecided on U.S. Supreme Court nominee, criticizes politics surrounding judiciary

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for a U.S. Supreme Court lifetime appointment has been hailed by supporters, while critics worry he is the potentially decisive vote in overturning Roe vs. Wade.

With Republicans holding just a two-seat margin in the U.S. Senate, a confirmation fight is looming and Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones is right in the middle of it.

Last week, Jones said he’s been working hard to learn more about Judge Brett Kavanugh, pointing out Kavanaugh could serve on the court for the next 20-30 years.

“I am doing something every day on this nomination to try to learn all that I can,” Jones said.

But there’s plenty of pressure on Jones to make up his mind.

Alabama's senior U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby has endorsed Kavanaugh and suggested Jones should do the same. And, the Washington D.C.-based Judicial Crisis Network has spent more than a million dollars on ads targeting a handful of Democratic senators, including Jones.

The ad which includes a shot of a smiling baby with the text, “Supreme Court and innocent lives on the line,” argues, in part, “President Trump has nominated another fair, independent justice, will Senator Jones stand with us, or them? Call Senator Doug Jones.”

Jones said he’s going to make his own decision.

“And that’s so unfortunate that our judiciary has become not the independent judiciary that the framers of the Constitution envisioned,” Jones said. “but has become political with people running millions of dollars of TV ads on both sides of the issue.”

Jones said Thursday he’s continuing to study Kavanaugh’s record, trying to better understand him.

“His judicial philosophy, and whether that is a philosophy vs. an agenda,” Jones said.

Much of the pressure on the nomination comes down to the conservative push to overturn Roe vs. Wade. But Jones said he’s taking a broader view.

“But on specific issues, I’ve really not focused on that as much,” he said. “I certainly don’t want to comment on those at this point.”

Jones has plans to check lots of material over the Senate’s August recess. He’s also hopeful Republicans will agree to release more records related to Kavanaugh’s work in President George W. Bush’s administration and while assisting Special Counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton.

“I want to keep an open mind, and not try to box in any one particular issue.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t set a hearing date yet.

Jones said he expects to meet with the nominee after those hearings, but before a floor vote.