Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings off to a rocky start in Senate

UPDATE — 9/6, 11:33 a.m. EDT: Confidential documents related to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court were released Thursday by Senate Democrats over the objection GOP judiciary committee members. 

Specifically, the previously withheld documents are emails from Kavanaugh about legal issues like law enforcement’s use of racial profiling and the permanence of abortion rights under Roe v. Wade.

 

On a chaotic Tuesday, Senate Democrats attempted to delay the hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by seeking a vote on a motion to adjourn.

In a coordinated effort, Democrats repeatedly interrupted Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as liberal activists attempted to shout down lawmakers. Grassley ruled out Democrats’ repeated calls for adjournment, and dozens of protesters were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Democrats specifically objected to Republican members withholding documents on Kavanaugh’s past White House service, 42,000 of which were released Monday night before the hearing. The White House has used executive privilege to shield more than 100,000 pages of records.

Senate Democrats participated in a conference call over Labor Day weekend that organized the plan to stall confirmation proceedings.

Protesters present at the hearing voiced concern at Kavanaugh’s stance on abortion rights, access to healthcare and gun control.

Judiciary committee members gave seven-hours worth of opening statements before Kavanaugh was able to give a 20-minute opening statement of his own, which included:

“The Supreme Court must never, never be viewed as a partisan institution. The justices on the Supreme Court do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle. They do not caucus in separate rooms. If confirmed to the court, I would be part of a team of nine, committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States. I would always strive to be a team player on the team of nine.”

Kavanaugh is expected to move the conservative majority Supreme Court further to the right. Public opinion for Kavanaugh’s nomination largely falls along party lines, with a slight plurality of 40 percent agreeing with his confirmation.

Tuesday’s events mark the first of four days of confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh. Senators are set to begin questioning Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

During Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation 2017, Republicans reduced the margin to advance Supreme Court nominations within the Senate from 60 votes to a simple majority.  The Senate is likely to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation by the end of September, before the Supreme Court begins its next term in October.

 

[Politico] [CNN] [Reuters] [Roll Call] [Breitbart] [National Review] [Washington Post] [NBC News]

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