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Trump's Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh vows independence, sidesteps questions

06 September 2018

In excerpts from his opening statement, Kavanaugh said he is a "pro-law judge" who would bring his impartiality to the nation's high court.

Quarreling and confusion marked the start of the Senate's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday, with Democrats trying to block the proceedings because of documents being withheld by the White House.

Even as Grassley spoke, multiple protesters spoke out and were escorted from the room. But is it really possible for a judge to set aside their personal biases, as Kavanaugh suggested he could?

If approved, he would be expected to tilt the court's balance to the right.

"We will get through each question today, no matter how long it takes", Grassley said.

What were the protests about?

"Judge Kavanaugh's parents were also visibly upset by the vulgar shouts of the protesters".

Others claimed the judge would let people with pre-existing medical conditions be stripped of medical coverage. One woman was led out shouting, "Sham president, sham justice". Another cried: "Our democracy is broken!"

He stated his reliance on precedent for the first two - although he did not give his opinion on Roe - and said he couldn't answer the third due to another precedent, the standard established during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg two and a half decades ago.

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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) pressed an intriguing line of questioning with Judge Brett Kavanaugh late Wednesday night in the ongoing hearings about his nomination to the Supreme Court - but she never got a straight answer.

Trump told reporters at the White House he was pleased with the hearing and said: "The other side is grasping at straws".

Democrats have been fiercely critical of the Trump administration for not providing sufficient documentation about Kavanaugh's time in Bush's White House, where he may have played key roles in terrorism-related decisions such as permitting the torture of detainees. "They will say anything, and are only looking to inflict pain and embarrassment to one of the most highly renowned jurists to ever appear before Congress".

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch bluntly asked Kavanaugh what loyalty he owes Trump.

Why is the nomination contentious?

Kennedy was a solid conservative but sided with the court's liberals on some issues, including abortion and gay rights.

Guttenberg is attending the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing as a guest of Senator Dianne Feinstein.

"If Brett Kavanaugh becomes a supreme court justice, will he help gut or overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in America?"

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He also declined to say whether he would recuse himself from cases involving the civil or criminal liability of President Trump.

Republicans command a narrow 51-49 Senate majority. "So she's in an immigration facility in the United States, she's from another country, she does not speak English". So far, there are no signs of Republican defections.

"Senator, I said that it is settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis", Kavanaugh explained.

The Senate is likely to vote on confirmation by the end of the month. If all goes as Republicans plan, Kavanaugh could be on the bench when the court begins its new term on October 1.

Kavanaugh said he would not have any trouble ruling against the president who nominated him to the high court, praising justices who had done so in the past.

He studied law at Yale and is a resident of the wealthy Washington suburb of Chevy Chase.

Democrats have raised concerns that if the special counsel investigation were to make its way to the supreme court, Kavanaugh could not be impartial toward the president who appointed him.

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Trump's Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh vows independence, sidesteps questions