(CBS) — Citing judicial nominee precedent, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in day two of his confirmation hearing, neglected to tip his hat on how he stands on major issues and rulings that lawmakers, mostly Democrats, were looking to have the next Supreme Court pick expand upon in his confirmation process.

Perhaps what has been more enlightening from the hearing thus far is what Kavanaugh hasn’t answered or refused to provide clear indications on.

On Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh repeated to lawmakers time and time again that he understands the “importance of precedence” in the decision of the landmark case for women’s reproductive rights.

He reaffirmed his view is that the case is “settled precedent of the Supreme Court” and it has “been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years.” He neglected, however to explicitly say where he stands on the issue.

On Executive power, Kavanaugh affirmed to lawmakers that “no one is above the law” but declined to answer questions on hypothetical cases of whether nor not the president could pardon himself.

On presidential loyalty: Pressed on if what loyalty he owes to President Trump, Kavanaugh said, holding up a worn, personal copy of the legal document, “if confirmed to the Supreme Court and as a sitting judge, I owe my loyalty to the Constitution.”

Live updates of the hearing:

Kavanaugh sidesteps questions on presidential authority

Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons asked Kavanaugh whether he would vote to overturn Morrison v. Olson, a 1988 Supreme Court decision which would upheld the constitutionality of creating an independent counsel under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. The law expired in 1999, and now special counsels are governed by Justice Department regulations.

Kavanaugh told a conservative group in 2016 that he wanted to “put the final nail in the coffin” of Morrison v. Olson. Coons asked whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Morrison v. Olson, and whether he believed a special counsel is “fireable at will” of the president.

Kavanaugh declined to answer, saying that he could not weigh in about a hypothetical future case.

However, Kavanaugh told Republican Sen. Ben Sasse that no president had “immunity” from being charged for a civil or criminal crime. He said that the important question was when charges against the president should be brought — while he or she is in office, or after he or she leaves office.

Kavanaugh repeatedly interrupted by protesters

Throughout the day, Kavanaugh was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, who yelled criticism of the judge before being escorted from the room. The protesters shouted slogans such as “we will not go back,” referring to the fear among some on the left that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade if Kavanaugh is confirmed.

US Capitol Police arrest protestors as Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the second day of his US Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to be an Associate Justice on the US Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 5, 2018. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/Getty Images)

Democrats try to shut down hearing by invoking a procedural rule

While Kavanaugh continued questioning, a bit of drama played out on the Senate floor as Democrats invoked a rarely enforced Senate rule against holding committee meetings past the first two hours of the Senate’s day in the hopes of derailing the Kavanaugh hearing.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for the Judiciary committee to be allowed to meet during today’s session to which Schumer, denied, saying the public and Senate Democrats have not received the documents they need and Republicans are trying to “jam through” the nomination of Kavanaugh.

Usually both sides agree by unanimous consent to allow committees to meet while the Senate is in session.

Leader McConnell adjourned the Senate floor for the day, which will allow the Judiciary Committee to continue to meet for the remainder of the day.

Kavanaugh on immigration abortion case: “I’m a judge” not policy maker

Pressed on his role in the case of a pregnant 17-year old girl seeking an abortion while being held in a Texas facility for immigrant children, Kavanaugh argued, “I’m a judge, I’m not making the policy decision.” The teen ultimately had the abortion as the government prepared to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh, in his dissent in the case, accepted that Roe v. Wade precedent applied to the teenager in the case. He did, however, side with the Trump administration who said as a minor, the girl should have consulted with an adult first before the procedure.

“I’m deciding if policy is consistent with Supreme Court precedent,” he added. He said in his ruling he did the “best I could.”

Slamming process, Durbin says it’s on Kavanaugh to be transparent

Durbin, harping back to Democrats’ strategy on Tuesday, slammed the confirmation process and the lack of access to documents on Kavanaugh’s record. Durbin asked Kavanaugh if he was part of the decision making process in not releasing the entirety of documents to which Kavanaugh said that was not a decision for the nominee to make.

Durbin further pressed Kavanaugh, saying he could have asked for the public release of documents in the spirit of transparency.

“It’s up to you…to say I don’t want a cloud or shadow” over the hearing.

Hearing comes back to order

Kavanaugh returned just after 12:45 p.m. with questioning kicking off with Sen. Dick Durbin.

Senate breaks for short recess

Promptly at 12:15 p.m., the Committee took it’s first break of the day for lunch break and votes. The hearing will adjourn for 30 minutes.

In lighter moment, Kavanaugh reflects on how he’d like to be remembered

In a rare moment of levity for the confirmation process, Sen. Graham asked Kavanaugh how he’d like to be remembered after all is said and done.

Kavanaugh: “A good dad. A good judge.” Sen. Feinstein then interrupted: “Good husband.” The chamber broke into laughs as Kavanaugh repeated after the ranking member.

Leahy, Grassley and Kavanaugh get in spat over emails

Over the course of Sen. Pat Leahy’s questioning, the Democrat pressed Kavanaugh over confidential emails that suggested Kavanaugh might have been more involved in a scandal stemming from a hacking of Senate Democrats’ emails than he originally lead on, including from Leahy’s office, during his time in the Bush White House.

Allegations at the time claim that Republican operatives hacked into the computers of Democratic senators to steal information about what Democrats were planning to ask President Bush’s judicial nominees. After having Kavanaugh read through emails during the hearing, the judge was adamant that he was not aware the information he received had been stolen.

Leahy suggested Kavanaugh had misled the Senate during separate hearings back in 2004 and 2006 on the matter, saying that “Truthfulness under oath is not an optional qualification for a Supreme Court nominee.”

Kavanaugh later told Sen. Lindsey Graham that he never knowingly stole emails or documents from Sen. Leahy’s office.

Kavanaugh pressed on environmental rulings

“I am not a skeptic of regulation,” Kavanaugh said. “I am a skeptic of unauthorized regulation.”

The judge, who has raised concerns amongst activists over how he might sway the court’s favor in future rulings on environmental-based cases, defended his background as saying in some cases he’s ruled against environmental interests, and many other for environmental interests. Kavanaugh cited rulings involving the American Trucking Association and stricter air quality standards as cases where he sided with environmental interests.

Kavanaugh on empowering women in courts

Kavanaugh said that there’s a pipeline problem for women gaining access to jobs within the judicial system.

“What it takes is just not accepting the same-old answer,” he said. “I try to figure out why, and then do something about it.”

When pressed on prominent appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski, who resigned after more than a dozen women alleged he subjected them to inappropriate sexual conductand harassment, Kavanaugh called the reports a “gut punch.”

“It was a gut punch to me. It was a gut punch to the judiciary. I was shocked and disappointed. Angry. No woman should be subject to sexual harassment in the workplace.”

Kavanaugh denied that he was ever aware of the allegations against Kozinksi, saying he only learned about them through initial news reports.

Kavanaugh says loyalty is to Constitution, not president

Asked what assurances he could give that he would not allow the president’s personal views or interests to sway his views on the court, Kavanaugh said that he is an “independent judge” and if confirmed, he will base his decisions on the Constitution and precedent “without fear or favor, independently without pressure from any quarter.”

“The person with the best arguments on the law is the person that will win with me,” he added.

Pressed on if what loyalty he owes to the president, Kavanaugh said, holding up a worn, personal copy of the legal document, “if confirmed to the Supreme Court and as a sitting judge, I owe my loyalty to the Constitution.”

Kavanaugh won’t answer if sitting president can be subpoenaed

Feinstein: “Can a sitting president have to respond to a subpoena?”

Kavanaugh: “As a sitting judge and a nominee … I can’t give you an answer to a hypothetical.”

Kavanaugh provides no clear answers on Roe v. Wade

Without explicitly saying where he stands on the issue, Kavanaugh, in his questioning with Feinstein, said that he understands the “importance of precedence” in the decision of Roe v. Wade.

He reaffirmed his view is that the case is “settled precedent of the Supreme Court” and it has “been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years.”

Kavanaugh said that while he understands the importance of the issue, he doesn’t “live in a bubble” on the debate over women’s reproductive rights.

On a woman’s right to choose, Kavanaugh again said his view “as a judge, it is important precedent of the Supreme Court.”

Feinstein, Kavanaugh spar over assault weapons

Asked by Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein what led to his view that an assault weapons ban such as the one in Washington, DC is considered “unconstitutional”, Kavanaugh said he was simply following precedent from the Supreme Court “whether he agreed with it or not.”

“The way I understood was that dangerous and unusual weapons could be prohibited,” explained Kavanaugh. He argued that assault weapons are widely used and possessed in the U.S.

“The question is are they a danger and unusual,” he added.

Kavanaugh: “No one is above the law”

No one is above the law in our constitutional system,” said Kavanaugh when asked about his position on judicial independence and the separation of powers among the three branches of government.

“The executive branch is subject to the law, that’s an important part of the constitutional structure,” he added. Kavanaugh said resisting public pressures, political pressure and treating everyone equally no matter their race, gender, station in life or position in the federal government is vital to ensuring equal justice under the law.

“I’m a pro-law judge…If you walk into my courtroom and you have the better legal arguments, you will win”

Kavanaugh said there have been a “slew of cases” where he has ruled against the administration that appointed him. Asked if he had been asked to give assurances about the way he would rule in certain cases, Kavanaugh replied: “No.”

Kavanaugh says “independence” makes a good judge

In his very first question of the hearing, Kavanaugh said that the quality of a good judge is independence from political pressures or other entities. He said that not being swayed by outside politics takes “back bone.” He added that judges are “constitutionally dictated to heed the rules of precedent .”

As for human qualities, Kavanaugh said he would be congenial with his fellow justices on the high court. He said that “unanimity of decisions” adds force to the court’s rulings.

Kavanaugh agreed with Grassley when pressed on not giving forecasts or previews on how he might rule on a given case or specific precedent he might favor.

“One of the things that I have to remember sitting in this seat that this moment is a moment of judicial independence with how I interact with this committee,” he said. Kavanaugh said following “nominee precedent” of prior justices not tipping their hat on how they would serve on the court is “critical” to an impartial confirmation process.

“I must adhere to my job which is not to advance my own interests, I’m a representative of the judiciary as a whole and I have a responsibility to judicial independence right here right now as a nominee.”

Day two begins with questions

Just after 9:30 a.m. Grassley began the proceedings into questioning Kavanaugh.



Leave a Reply