Kavanaugh denies knowing of Kozinski complaints
WASHINGTON (AP) – Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he knew nothing about the sexual misconduct allegations against a judge who was a friend and mentor.
Kavanaugh said Wednesday that when the allegations against former federal appeals court judge Alex Kozinski became public, they were a “gut punch” for him and for the federal judiciary. Asked whether he knew about the allegations before they became public, Kavanaugh responded: “nothing.” He said he was “shocked and disappointed.”
Asked whether he was on an email list that Kozinski used to send offensive material, Kavanaugh responded: “I don’t remember anything like that.”
Kozinski retired in December after several female former law clerks and colleagues accused him of sexual misconduct.
Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski, and Kozinski introduced him during his 2006 confirmation hearing to be a judge.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is refusing to say whether a president can be forced to testify in a criminal case, calling it a hypothetical.
The topic is front-and-center at Kavanaugh’s hearing because the man who nominated him, President Donald Trump, could face a subpoena in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, asked Kavanaugh whether he thinks a sitting president can “be required to respond to a subpoena.”
Kavanaugh responded: “I can’t give you an answer on that hypothetical question.”
The Supreme Court has never ruled on a presidential subpoena.
President Bill Clinton was subpoenaed by independent counsel Kenneth Starr in 1998. Clinton eventually agreed to testify voluntarily and the subpoena was withdrawn.
Kavanaugh worked for Starr.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says a 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to an abortion is an “important precedent” that has “been reaffirmed many times.”
Kavanaugh was asked about the Roe v. Wade ruling by Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California. He said the decision has “been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years.” And he noted that a 1992 decision of the court called Planned Parenthood v. Casey didn’t just reaffirm Roe v. Wade in passing. He said that decision becomes “precedent on precedent.”
Kavanaugh compared the Roe decision to another case, Miranda v. Arizona, which requires law enforcement to tell suspects their rights. Kavanaugh noted that former Chief Justice William Rehnquist had been a critic of the Miranda decision but later upheld it as precedent.
Republicans are invoking Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to make the case that Brett Kavanaugh should decline to say how he might vote on any particular case.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley referred to the so-called “Ginsburg standard” Wednesday during the second day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
Ginsburg said during her 1993 confirmation hearing that it would be wrong for her to “preview in this legislative chamber how I would cast my vote on questions the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide.”
As Kavanaugh put it, quoting Ginsburg, that means “no hints, no forecasts, no previews.”
Despite her statement, Ginsburg was questioned extensively about abortion during her hearing. She told lawmakers, “It is essential to woman’s equality with man that she be the decision maker.”
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is pointing to a decision where he ruled for an associate of Osama bin Laden as evidence of his independence as judge.
Asked by Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley to discuss what judicial independence means to him, Kavanaugh pointed to his opinion in a case involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who was bin Laden’s former chauffeur. Hamdan challenged his detention at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Kavanaugh told senators that “you’ll never have a nominee who’s ruled for a more unpopular defendant.” Kavanaugh says judges don’t make decisions based on who people are, but “whether they have the law on their side.”
Hamdan was released from Guantanamo before the appeals court ruling that vacated his conviction.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he believes the first thing that makes a good judge is “independence.”
Kavanaugh is answering questions Wednesday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s his first day answering questions from lawmakers.
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley began the day by asking Kavanaugh to explain what he thinks makes a good judge.
Kavanaugh responded that he thinks “the first quality of a good judge in our constitutional system is independence.” He said being a good judge also requires paying attention to the words of the Constitution and the words of laws, “not doing what I want to do.”
The judge said he wants parties to leave oral arguments in his cases believing he had an “open mind, he gave me a fair shake.”
Demonstrators are again disrupting the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley attempted to gavel in the second day of hearings on Wednesday when shouting protesters began disrupting the hearings. Grassley said 70 people were arrested during the first day of hearings the day before.
Kavanaugh will be answering questions from senators all day. Democratic senators are expected to press for his views on issues like abortion, guns and executive power.
President Donald Trump nominated the 53-year-old appellate judge in July to fill the seat of retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Liberal and progressive groups are pressuring Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to unify Democrats against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
A letter sent to Schumer on the second day of hearings for President Donald Trump’s court pick says bluntly: “You are failing us.”
Democrats face a difficult climb trying to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation. If nearly all Republicans back Kavanaugh, as is expected, several Democrats facing tough re-election races may vote to confirm him.
But the groups say Democrats in states like West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and Alabama have nothing to fear from voting against Kavanaugh. They say voters in those states “care deeply” about the issues before the court and “will reward a principled vote.”
The Senate’s questioning of Kavanaugh is set to begin Wednesday morning.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh touted the importance of an independent judiciary as his confirmation hearings began with strident Democratic criticism that he would be President Donald Trump’s man on the high court.
On Wednesday, Kavanaugh can expect to spend most of the day in the hot seat, sparring with Democratic senators over abortion, guns, executive power and other high-profile issues.
A long day of questioning awaits the 53-year-old appellate judge, whom Trump nominated in July to fill the seat of retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. The change could make the court more conservative on a range of issues.
Barring a surprise, Republicans appear on track to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, perhaps in time for the first day of the new term on Oct. 1.
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