Brett Kavanaugh hearings: SCOTUS nominee vague on Roe v. Wade, says loyalty is to Constitution

(CBSNews) -- On the second day of his confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh declined to reveal much about where he stands on major issues, but told lawmakers that he would respect judicial precedent should he serve on the high court.

Perhaps what has been more enlightening from the hearing thus far is what Kavanaugh hasn't answered or refused to provide clear indications on.

On Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh repeated to lawmakers time and time again that he understands the "importance of precedence" in the decision of the landmark case for women's reproductive rights.

He reaffirmed his view is that the case is "settled precedent of the Supreme Court" and it has "been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years." He neglected, however to explicitly say where he stands on the issue.

On Executive power, Kavanaugh affirmed to lawmakers that "no one is above the law" but declined to answer questions on hypothetical cases of whether nor not the president could pardon himself.

On presidential loyalty: Pressed on whether he owes loyalty to President Trump, Kavanaugh said, holding up a worn, personal copy of the legal document, "if confirmed to the Supreme Court and as a sitting judge, I owe my loyalty to the Constitution."

  • Kavanaugh hearing adjourned

    Sen. Thom Tillis adjourned the Kavanaugh hearing after 10 p.m., after over 12 hours. The hearing will start back up Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
  • Kavanaugh asked about Mueller investigation, Russia meddling

    Sen. Kamala Harris asked if Kavanaugh discussed special counsel Robert Mueller with anyone. "The fact that it's on going, it's in the news every day ... it's in the courthouse in the District of Columbia ... the answer is yes," Kavanaugh said. Harris pressed further, asking if he discussed with "anyone in the law firm of Kasowitz, Benson and Torres, the law firm founded by President Trump's personal lawyer? Be sure about your answer, sir." Kavanaugh said he was "not remembering" and then when pressed further, he said "I would like to know who you are referring to." "I think you're thinking of someone and you don't want to tell us," Harris responded.
  • Booker questions Kavanaugh about racial profiling

    Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, asked Kavanaugh about affirmative action and voting rights. Booker asked repeatedly if Kavanaugh believes race-conscious policies are constitutionally valid to remedy past discrimination. Kavanaugh answered "the Supreme Court says it is," with Booker saying "I know what the Supreme Court has said, I want to know what you think." Kavanaugh wouldn't say if he agrees with Supreme Court precedent on this issue. Booker asked about voting rights, and said "your answers don't provide me comfort." Booker also said there was an email entitled "Racial Profiling" that was designated "Committee Confidential." "The fact that we have not allowing these emails out as we have asked, as I have asked, joined a letter with my colleagues asking, and that's why I am saying the system is rigged," Booker said. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said he agreed and he doesn't know why they marked confidential.
  • Committee takes half hour recess

    The Judiciary Committee took a half hour recess beginning at 7:40 p.m. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker questions Kavanaugh when session resumes.
  • Hirono questions Kavanaugh about sexual harassment

    Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii began her testimony by asking Kavanaugh if he had ever conducted sexual harassment or assault, or faced discipline or paid a settlement related to those issues, which she said was a way to make sure the #MeToo movement would apply to judges appointed to lifetime positions. Hirono has been asking all of Mr. Trump's judicial nominee these two questions. Hirono then asked about Kavanaugh's relationship with former Judge Alex Kozinski, a judge for the 9th Circuit who had been accused of sexual misconduct by several women, asking if he had seen any evidence of Kozinski's pattern of sexual misconduct over thirty years. Kavanaugh denied that he knew anything about Kozinski's inappropriate behavior towards women. "You saw nothing, you heard nothing, and you obviously said nothing," Hirono said. She then asked if Kavanaugh believed the women who had accused Kozinski. "I have no reason not to believe them, senator," Kavanaugh responded. He said that if he had known about Kozinski's behavior, he would have contacted his superiors on the court, including Chief Judge Merrick Garland, and even Chief Justice John Roberts. Hirono noted that Kavanaugh has considered himself an advocate for women, but seemed skeptical that he had no knowledge of Kozinski's behavior.
  • Committee is back in session

    Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal questioned Kavanaugh after the recess. He asked Kavanaugh about his views on Roe v. Wade, which the nominee deflected using previous arguments that he could not commit to hypotheticals of whether he would vote to overturn that decision.
  • Committee breaks for recess

    At 5:23 p.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee began a ten minute recess, to be followed by questions from Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
  • Kavanaugh sidesteps questions on presidential authority

    Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons asked Kavanaugh whether he would vote to overturn Morrison v. Olson, a 1988 Supreme Court decision which would upheld the constitutionality of creating an independent counsel under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. The law expired in 1999, and now special counsels are governed by Justice Department regulations. Kavanaugh told a conservative group in 2016 that he wanted to "put the final nail in the coffin" of Morrison v. Olson. Coons asked whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Morrison v. Olson, and whether he believed a special counsel is "fireable at will" of the president. Kavanaugh declined to answer, saying that he could not weigh in about a hypothetical future case. However, Kavanaugh told Republican Sen. Ben Sasse that no president had "immunity" from being charged for a civil or criminal crime. He said that the important question was when charges against the president should be brought -- while he or she is in office, or after he or she leaves office.
  • Kavanaugh repeatedly interrupted by protesters

    Throughout the day, Kavanaugh was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, who yelled criticism of the judge before being escorted from the room. The protesters shouted slogans such as "we will not go back," referring to the fear among some on the left that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade if Kavanaugh is confirmed.
  • Democrats try to shut down hearing by invoking a procedural rule

    While Kavanaugh continued questioning, a bit of drama played out on the Senate floor as Democrats invoked a rarely enforced Senate rule against holding committee meetings past the first two hours of the Senate's day in the hopes of derailing the Kavanaugh hearing. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for the Judiciary committee to be allowed to meet during today's session to which Schumer, denied, saying the public and Senate Democrats have not received the documents they need and Republicans are trying to "jam through" the nomination of Kavanaugh. Usually both sides agree by unanimous consent to allow committees to meet while the Senate is in session. Leader McConnell adjourned the Senate floor for the day, which will allow the Judiciary Committee to continue to meet for the remainder of the day.
  • Kavanaugh on immigration abortion case: "I'm a judge" not policy maker

    Pressed on his role in the case of a pregnant 17-year old girl seeking an abortion while being held in a Texas facility for immigrant children, Kavanaugh argued, "I'm a judge, I'm not making the policy decision." The teen ultimately had the abortion as the government prepared to appeal to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh, in his dissent in the case, accepted that Roe v. Wade precedent applied to the teenager in the case. He did, however, side with the Trump administration who said as a minor, the girl should have consulted with an adult first before the procedure. "I'm deciding if policy is consistent with Supreme Court precedent," he added. He said in his ruling he did the "best I could."
  • Slamming process, Durbin says it's on Kavanaugh to be transparent

    Durbin, harping back to Democrats' strategy on Tuesday, slammed the confirmation process and the lack of access to documents on Kavanaugh's record. Durbin asked Kavanaugh if he was part of the decision making process in not releasing the entirety of documents to which Kavanaugh said that was not a decision for the nominee to make. Durbin further pressed Kavanaugh, saying he could have asked for the public release of documents in the spirit of transparency. "It's up to say I don't want a cloud or shadow" over the hearing.
  • Hearing comes back to order

    Kavanaugh returned just after 12:45 p.m. with questioning kicking off with Sen. Dick Durbin.
  • Senate breaks for short recess

    Promptly at 12:15 p.m., the Committee took it's first break of the day for lunch break and votes. The hearing will adjourn for 30 minutes.
  • In lighter moment, Kavanaugh reflects on how he'd like to be remembered

    In a rare moment of levity for the confirmation process, Sen. Graham asked Kavanaugh how he'd like to be remembered after all is said and done.
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