Kavanaugh’s hearing: Sexual harassment, abortion and subpoenaing the president
Brett Kavanaugh Wednesday faced the Senate Judiciary Committee for a second day of his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court — where he appeared to dodge questions from some Democrats on gun control and executive power.
The questioning from Democrats was generally anticipated, with Kavanaugh fielding inquiries on his stance on Roe vs. Wade, torture and whether a sitting president can be subpoenaed.
“No one is above the law.”
Grassley began the hearing by asking Kavanaugh to define judicial independence, adding that “a judge’s sole job is to find and apply the law evenly and fairly without regard to the president who nominated him, the senators who voted for him, the parties before him and the political consequences of his judicial decision.”
Second Amendment and gun control
Kavanaugh did not reject an argument he wrote that some semi-automatic rifles cannot be banned. He said that other Supreme Court opinions, in addition to the second amendment, took precedent.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Kavanaugh about his stance in regards to “the hundreds of school shootings using assault weapons that have taken place in recent history.”
Kavanaugh replied that “of course the violence in the schools is something that we all detest and want to do something about.” He contested, however, that he still sees that it is his job “to follow the second amendment opinion of the supreme court whether I agreed with it or disagreed.”
Roe v. Wade is “an important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times,” Kavanaugh said. Feinstein asked if he thought the ruling was “correct law” and asked whether he would try to overturn it.
“Senator, I said that it is settled as a precedence of the Supreme Court and entitled respect under stare decisis,” Kavanaugh said. “And one of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v. Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years as you know.”
Feistein said that she believes that women should “be able to control their own reproductive systems within obviously some concern for a viable fetus.” To which Kavanaugh replied that he understands “how passionate and how deeply people feel about this issue.”
“I don’t live in a bubble,” he said. “I live in the real world. I understand the importance of the issue.”
He later added: “I do understand the real world effects of that decision, as I try to do of all the decisions of my court and of the Supreme Court.”
Kavanaugh declines to answer whether a president has to respond to a subpoena from a court of law. He cited Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s rule to decline answering questions that could offer “hints,” “forecasts” or “previews” on how they could rule in the future on the court.
“My understanding is that you’re asking me to give my view you on a potential hypothetical, and that a is something that each of the eight justices when sitting in my seat declined to decide potential hypothetical cases,” he said.”
Alex Kozinski sexual harassment claims
Kavanaugh denied knowing about sexual harassment claims involving former U.S. Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski. Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski between the years 1991 to 1992.
The Washington Post in Dec. 2017 reported that several former clerks and junior staffers were sexually harassed by Kozinski. Kavanaugh said he did not know anything about the allegations prior to the Post report.
“It was a gut punch for the judiciary, and I was shocked, and disappointed,” Kavanaugh said. “No woman should be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.”