Kavanaugh's SCOTUS confirmation hearings begin with skirmishes

Protesters disrupt the confirmation hearing for US Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh

Protesters disrupt the confirmation hearing for US Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh

All three issues deeply divide Americans and could come before the Supreme Court, with Kavanaugh seen by both conservatives and liberals as someone likely to tip the court in an even more conservative direction. He condemned the spate of US school shootings but defended an opinion he wrote questioning whether semi-automatic rifles could be banned.

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. There are several important cases waiting on the Court's docket this fall, and whoever replaces Justice Anthony Kennedy will have tremendous power to impact our everyday lives at home, at work and in school for generations to come.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) continued to bring up the motion at various points throughout the hearing which was backed by other Democrats.

"I've tried to be a very collegial judge, I've tried to be civil", he said.

Trump has often criticized the judiciary.

"Under our system of government, the executive branch of government is subject to the law", Judge Kavanaugh said.

The BBC's Gary O'Donoghue, in Washington, says the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation in the 2016 election has raised important constitutional questions about the extent to which an incumbent president can be forced to co-operate.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll buttresses the idea that there is a lack of enthusiasm around Kavanaugh's confirmation, as just 37% of registered voters support him becoming a Supreme Court Justice. "Yes, of course he will", the former presidential nominee tweeted. 82 percent of those who voted in the 2016 elections claim that Supreme Court appointments were important to their presidential vote.

President Donald Trump, who nominated Kavanaugh on July 9, weighed in on the ruckus on the committee as Kavanaugh read his opening statement, before the meeting wrapped up for the day. He set out right away to buffer himself by asserting he believes a good judge is independent of political pressure: "If you walk into my courtroom and you have the better legal arguments, you will win", he said repeatedly. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) basically accused Kavanaugh of lying at his 2006 judicial confirmation hearing when he denied being involved in discussions related to the detention of enemy combatants.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, said the hearing had degenerated into "mob rule" within the first hour.

"The Supreme Court must never, never be viewed as a partisan institution", he said. And he noted that a 1992 decision of the court - Planned Parenthood v. Casey - didn't just reaffirm Roe v. Wade in passing. Today, she cites statistics about women who died while undergoing illegal abortions prior to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision recognizing abortion rights. The ruling was later overturned and she had the abortion.

On the issue of gun rights, Senator Feinstein pressed Mr Kavanaugh on his previous opposition to a ban on semi-automatic rifles. Additionally, the right to use contraception, whether you are married or single, is also protected as a constitutional right dating back to the decision of Eisenstadt v. Baird in 1972. She asks him if his views of Roe's precedential value have changed since his White House days.

Kavanaugh worked for Starr, and urged Starr to take an aggressive approach when questioning Clinton about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern. A few years later, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Court found that an OR law requiring parents to send their children to public schools "unreasonably interfere [d] with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control".

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