Chaos at Kavanaugh confirmation hearing | Democrats to get first crack at Kavanaugh in second day of hearings

From The Hill

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced protests, confrontations with activists and demands that his confirmation hearing be shut down — all before he gave his opening remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

The Hill: Chaos reigns on day one.

The turbulence underscored the stakes during an election year. Kavanaugh, 53, is expected to become the fifth sitting justice nominated by a Republican president, potentially tipping the balance of the Supreme Court toward conservatives for a generation.

Democrats lack the votes to block him but will be unloading their full arsenal to appease the demands of a liberal base that views Kavanaugh as a direct threat to their agenda.

The second hearing on Wednesday figures to be even more explosive, as Democrats – including several with presidential ambitions – will make the most of their chance to cross-examine the man President Trump has tapped to replace former Justice Anthony Kennedy.

A quick recap of day one…

Here’s how Kavanaugh described his judicial philosophy:

“A judge must be independent and interpret the law, not make the law … a good judge must be an umpire, a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy … In each case I follow the law. I do not decide cases based on personal or policy preferences … if confirmed to the Supreme Court, I will keep an open mind in every case. I will do equal right to the poor and to the rich. I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.” – Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh lavished praise on Kennedy, the court’s longtime swing vote, describing him as his “mentor and friend and hero.” He expressed gratitude to Justice Elena Kagan – appointed by former President Obama – for hiring him when she was dean at Harvard Law.

And Kavanaugh touted his record of hiring clerks from “diverse backgrounds and points of view.” He said a majority of the clerks he’d hired had been women and more than a quarter were minorities.

The Republicans on the panel described Kavanaugh as a family man with deep roots in the community and a wealth of experience on the bench. Kavanaugh has written more than 300 opinions and has a solid record of rulings being upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Democrats accused the White House of withholding hundreds of thousands of documents pertaining to Kavanaugh’s time in former President George W. Bush’s White House.

They demanded the hearing be delayed to give them time to review the 42,000 documents that were released on Monday.

“I’m willing to wager there’s a smoking gun here.” – Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) argued that, “senators have had more than enough time … to adequately assess Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications.”

The potential 2020 Democratic presidential contenders came out smoking. Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) warned that Kavanaugh would be a rubber stamp for the Trump agenda, and serve as the president’s judicial safety net, should Trump wind up in legal jeopardy at the end of ongoing investigations.

The Democrats said having Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court would lead to dirty air and water, abortion being outlawed and civil rights being rolled back for gay people and minorities.

It seems so clear that, in your courts, the same folks seem to win over and over again: the powerful, the privileged, big corporations, special interests.” – Booker

Democrats were aided by a rowdy crowd of protesters, leading Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to say that the hearing was being run by “mob rule.”

Nearly two-dozen people were removed from the room within the first hour. Pictures of protesters wearing costumes representing the characters from the Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale” went viral.

Actress Piper Perabo says she was arrested, and the father of a student who was killed in the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., approached Kavanaugh, who appeared caught off guard as he left for a break in the middle of the day.

What to watch for on day two…

  • Democrats will continue to seek the release of all of Kavanaugh’s records.
  • Kavanaugh will be pressed to explain his views on abortion and whether he believes Roe v. Wade is settled law.
  • Democrats will ask Kavanaugh to detail his views about whether a sitting president can be criminally investigated. He’ll also be asked to comment on recent tweets by the president, who has vented frustration that the Justice Department is prosecuting Republicans and not Democrats.
  • Expect to hear a lot about civil rights, covering everything from gay marriage to whether hate-crime laws should be expanded.
  • Democrats will look to steer the conversation toward hot-button election year issues that energize the left, including ObamaCare and the nation’s gun laws.


Elizabeth Price Foley: Democrats should blame themselves for Kavanaugh’s inevitable confirmation.

Julian Zelizer: Kavanaugh hearings ring the bell on midterm elections.

Molly Dorozenski: Kavanaugh would prioritize corporations over everyday Americans.

Harper, Lenkner, Re, Van Zile and Walker: Kavanaugh will follow in Justice Kennedy’s footsteps.

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