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. But Kavanaugh's paper trail goes beyond that, as he also worked in the George W. Bush White House and for independent counsel Kenneth Starr during the investigation of President Bill Clinton.
"I'm not going to answer hypothetical questions of that sort", Kavanaugh said, responding to questions from Sen. "I'm a skeptic of unauthorized regulation, illegal regulation that is outside the bounds of what the laws passed by the Congress have said". "So sad to see!" Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says opponents' grandstanding over withheld documents pertaining to Judge Brett Kavanaugh's time in the White House is misplaced.
"We don't rewrite those laws", he said, adding the executive branch also should not rewrite law. Security personnel removed dozens of demonstrators from the room.
Cruz wasn't alone in asserting Kavanaugh had remained undamaged by Democrats; Jake Tapper of CNN opined, "In terms of the politics of this hearing, I don't think any Democrats as of yet have laid a glove on him, and [Kavanaugh has not] given any Republican and also those swing Democrats any reason not to vote for him". "We have not had an opportunity to have a meaningful hearing", said Sen.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) accused Democrats of trying to conduct the hearing by "mob rule". "Democratic senators interrupted the hearing 63 times before lunch, and in the audience, 70 people were arrested yesterday who were following their lead". "It is about Democratic senators re-litigating the 2016 election".
As an example of precedent, he cited United States v Nixon, the Supreme Court's unanimous 1974 ruling that president Richard Nixon was required to comply with a subpoena seeking the Watergate tapes. Democrats have been particularly interested in whether documents would reveal more about whether Kavanaugh played a role in developing Bush's policy on torture. Kavanaugh considered the judge a friend and mentor and Kozinski testified at Kavanaugh's 2006 confirmation hearing to be an appellate judge. They characterized the hearing as a "charade and mockery of our norms".
If confirmed, Kavanaugh is expected to move the court, which already had a conservative majority, further to the right. Senate Democratic leaders have vowed a fierce fight to try to block his confirmation. "If we can't even have a nominee who can publicly say there is no right for 7.2 billion people to break into the world and demand an abortion - putting Roe aside - i dont [sic] know the goal of us engaging in this business", he said.
The back two rows of the hearing room are reserved for the public. The two most likely GOP defectors, Sens.
"Senator, one of the core principles I've articulated here is the independence of the judiciary, which I know you care deeply about, too", Kavanaugh responded. "We shouldn't have to put up with this kind of stuff". But the Democrat frustrations that boiled over on Tuesday had been simmering for more than two years.
The 53-year-old appellate court judge, hoping to fill the vacant seat on the nine-member high court, told lawmakers he has not hesitated to make unpopular rulings in the past, citing his opinion in a case releasing Osama bin Laden's former chauffeur, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, from detention at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But with Wednesday offering the first opportunity for lawmakers to question Kavanaugh, it is unclear what disruptions, if any, will emerge. Given that he's Trump's nominee, many people on the left are fearful he would vote to weaken or overturn the law.