Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court nominee, sidesteps subpoena question

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the second day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill

Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court nominee, sidesteps subpoena question

"But unbelievably, almost two dozen Democrats have still not come out against Kavanaugh, and just last week, you helped Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fast track 15 Trump judicial nominees".

If confirmed, Kavanaugh is expected to move the court, which already had a conservative majority, further to the right. At age 53, Kavanaugh could serve on the court for decades.

But with Trump's fellow Republicans holding a slim Senate majority, and no sign of defections in the Republican ranks, it remains likely Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the lifetime job on the top USA judicial body.

In a tweet in June, President Trump said he had "the absolute right to PARDON myself".

The Supreme Court has never answered that question, and it is among the potentially most important since Trump could face a subpoena from special counsel Mueller.

Kavanaugh, a federal appeals judge, was nominated by Trump in July to replace the retiring justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been a critical swing vote on the nine-member bench. Senate Democrats have vowed a fierce fight.

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He has built an impressive record on the appellate court as an originalist thinker, but he's also been very deferential to precedent, as Kavanaugh himself notes.

Using her time to put some more of her concerns on the table, and to alert Kavanaugh to what she planned to ask him about, Klobuchar also said she was troubled by indications in an article Kavanaugh wrote that likewise "raised many troubling questions" about his expansive view of presidential power, especially in light of the current occupant of the Oval Office and the investigations swirling in Washington.

Trump's first nominee to the high court, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April 2017, 14 months after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia created a vacancy in President Barack Obama's a year ago in office.

Kavanaugh also is likely to face questions about his views on investigating sitting presidents and the ongoing probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Democratic senators plan to press Kavanaugh on abortion and gun rights, among other issues. "The American Bar Association, whose assessment Democratic leaders have called the "gold standard" of judicial evaluations, rated Judge Kavanaugh unanimously well-qualified".

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, introduced Guttenberg and several other advocates during her opening statement.

A heckler interrupts the proceedings during the first day of hearings to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in Washington, on September 4, 2018.

Nonetheless, Democrats successfully delayed much of the hearing with long-winded speeches blasting Kavanaugh on the merits of his rulings, writings, and beliefs.

The Senate is likely to vote on confirmation by the end of the month. "A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law", he said. The Supreme Court's new term begins October 1.

The strategy was front-and-center as Kavanaugh's hearing got underway Tuesday, with Democrats immediately calling on the committee to adjourn. "I don't decide cases based on personal or policy preferences".

Asked about court precedents, the importance of previously settled cases including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that ensures access to abortion, Kavanaugh said, "Respect for precedent is important".

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"The fix is in", Brad Woodhouse, executive director of health care group Protect Our Care, said in a statement. And he says he did not help set up or give legal advice for the Bush-era enhanced interrogation techniques that Congress later banned, a point of contention for Democrats who think he did play a role.

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