Quarreling, chaos mark Kavanaugh's Supreme Court hearing
Quarreling and confusion marked the Senate hearing Tuesday for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, with politically charged arguments about White House documents and process getting as much attention as the role the conservative judge would likely play in shaping rulings on abortion, executive power and other national issues.
Strong Democratic opposition to President Donald Trump's nominee reflected the political stakes for both parties just two months before congressional elections. The Democrats, including several senators poised for 2020 presidential bids, tried to block the proceedings over Kavanaugh records being withheld by the White House. Republicans in turn accused the Democrats of turning the hearing into a circus. And protesters shouted out frequent and persistent disruptions from the audience.
After hours silently listening to the partisan exchanges, Kavanaugh rose to be sworn in and give opening remarks. He stressed the court's independence at a time when Democrats say he was picked because Trump believes the judge's expansive views of executive power will help the president in investigations.
"Our independent Judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic," Kavanaugh told the senators. "The Supreme Court is the last line of defence for the separation of powers and the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution."
He said, "The Supreme Court must never, never be viewed as a partisan institution."
The 53-year-old judge choked up when talking about his family, particularly his parents, and drew chuckles from the room in naming all the girls he coaches on his daughter's basketball team.
Democrats raised objections to the nomination from the moment Chairman Chuck Grassley gaveled the Judiciary Committee to order.