MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Disruptions and tough questions filled the second day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Outbursts from protesters could be heard as Wednesday’s opening statements got underway.
They continued as the Senate Judiciary Committee pressed Kavanaugh on abortion rights and assault weapons. Some senators repeatedly questioned his loyalty to the president.
“Please tell us what judicial independence means to you, including whether you have any trouble ruling against the president who appointed you,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said.
Kavanaugh said no one is above the law in the United State constitutional system.
“Under our system of government, the executive branch is subject to the law, subject to the court system and that’s an important part of Federalist 69. It’s an important part of the constitutional structure,” Kavanaugh said.
If appointed, it is possible Kavanaugh could be called upon to rule on a challenge to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. This is a relevant topic because Judge Kavanaugh was part of the Special Counsel team which investigated President Bill Clinton, who was impeached, but has since changed his mind.
Klobuchar asked him about an article he wrote for the University of Minnesota Law Review, making the argument that a sitting president may not be investigated or charged.
“Your submission to the University of Minnesota Law Review. We thank you for making our law review so famous over the last month or so,” Klobuchar said. “In that article, you said that a president should not be subject to investigations while in office.”
Kavanaugh told Klobuchar that was merely a proposal to be considered and not a declaration of his stance on executive privilege.
“It was not a constitutional position. I did not take any constitutional position on the issues you’re raising,” Kavanaugh said. “If a constitutional question came to me, I would have an open mind and decide that.”
Klobuchar also repeated her objections to hundreds of thousands of documents related to Kavanaugh that remain secret, including 100,000 documents the White House has declared off limits from the five years that Kavanaugh worked for President George W. Bush.
Klobuchar: Do you personally have any objections to the release of the documents from your time as staff secretary?
Kavanaugh: Senator, I’m not going to take a position. That’s in my view a decision for the committee in consultation with the executive branch.
Klobuchar: So you’re not going to say whether or not you have a problem with it?
Kavanaugh: I’m not, I don’t think it’s my role to say one way or another.
The Kavanaugh questioning continues Thursday. Many Democrats already say they will oppose his nomination.
And many are still smarting from Republicans who refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nominee during Obama’s last year in office.