Kavanaugh pledges to be 'team player' on Supreme Court

With Republicans hoping to move the Supreme Court to the right for years to come a Senate committee is beginning hearings for President Donald Trump's second nominee to the court. Trump is seen above at the White House on Friday

He condemned the spate of US school shootings but defended an opinion he wrote questioning whether semi-automatic rifles could be banned.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the federal judiciary when he doesn't get his way in a case, such as when the courts struck down his initial Muslim travel bans. Some liberals have expressed concern Kavanaugh could serve as a rubber stamp for Trump and protect him from lawsuits and investigations. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa). "A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law", he said. He wouldn't say whether a sitting president could be subpoenaed (something Mueller threatened to do to Trump and could end up at the Supreme Court).

Kavanaugh wouldn't answer directly, saying its a hypothetical question and self-pardons are "something I have never analyzed".

Democrats, including several senators poised for 2020 presidential bids, tried to block the proceedings on Tuesday in a dispute over the records.

When Feinstein pressed, Kavanaugh again said he did not want to "give my view on a potential hypothetical" because "each of the eight justices now sitting on the Supreme Court, when they were sitting in my seat, declined to decide potential hypothetical cases".

Republicans have said Democrats have more than enough documents to assess Kavanaugh's record, which include documents pertaining to his 12 years of judicial opinions as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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 previous year in office.

"I think the first quality of a good judge in our constitutional system is independence", he added. Kavanaugh has not only testified twice before, he worked on judicial nominations while serving in the George W. Bush White House.

A decade earlier, Kavanaugh wrote that the Constitution seems to dictate that "congressional investigation must take place in lieu of criminal investigation when the President is the subject of investigation, and that criminal prosecution can occur only after the President has left office".

The Kavanaugh hearings are a flawless manifestation of the hyperpartisan era we're in right now.

If confirmed, Kavanaugh is expected to move the court, which already had a conservative majority, further to the right. Democrats remained feisty, which - combined with protester arrests, a viral handshake attempt, and a suspicious hand gesture - made for a pretty wild display (for a Senate hearing).

Kavanaugh began the tumultuous process on Tuesday, spending most of the time listening to the various members of the Senate Judiciary Committee give their own statements.

His job, he said, was to asses whether the Trump administration's policy was consistent with Supreme Court precedent. And he noted that a 1992 decision of the court - Planned Parenthood v. Casey - didn't just reaffirm Roe v. Wade in passing.

One of the big questions surrounding Kavanaugh is how he would vote on cases related to Roe vs. Wade. But that may not preclude him from joining the court's other conservatives in restricting its scope by upholding abortion restrictions enacted in conservative states.

Next, Sen. Feinstein goes for the third rail: abortion. Dianne Feinstein asking whether Nixon was "rightly decided". Once a justice is confirmed, those appointments are generally for life. "There's no reason Brett Kavanaugh couldn't have given a straight answer", she tweeted.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah claimed on Twitter that security intervened before Kavanaugh had a chance to respond to Guttenberg. Officials from 20 Republican-controlled states argued in a Texas court on Wednesday that the law should be invalidated entirely because its individual mandate had been repealed by the GOP tax law past year.

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