Politics

Kavanaugh Defends Judicial Record As Democrats Seek Answers On Hot-Button Issues

Judiciary Committee members Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. (left) and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., confer as Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the committee Wednesday during his confirmation hearings.
Judiciary Committee members Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. (left) and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., confer as Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the committee Wednesday during his confirmation hearings.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will be back at the witness table Thursday, after fielding more than 10 hours of questions on Wednesday. Senate Democrats challenged his record on hot-button issues such as abortion, affirmative action and presidential power.

Kavanaugh, who has written hundreds of opinions as an appeals court judge, defended those decisions, but generally avoided saying how he would rule in cases that might come before the Supreme Court.

"I have no agenda in any direction," he said. "I'm a judge."

Kavanaugh said he understands the weight that many people attach to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. But, pressed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., he declined to say whether that case was properly decided.

Kavanaugh also sidestepped questions from Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., about the circumstances in which government can and cannot use race-conscious measures to address past discrimination.

He conceded that hopes he expressed nearly two decades ago for a color-blind society have not been fulfilled.

"We see on an all too common basis that racism still exists in the United States of America," Kavanaugh said. "Our long march to racial equality is not over."

Kavanaugh said he would not have any trouble ruling against the president who nominated him to the high court, praising justices who had done so in the past. But he declined to weigh in on President Trump's recent tweets, criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the prosecution of two GOP lawmakers.

"I don't think we want judges commenting on the latest political controversy," Kavanaugh said. "That would ultimately lead the people to doubt whether we're independent, whether we're politicians in robes."

Kavanaugh will field a second, shorter round of questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Barring surprises, he appears likely to win confirmation in time to take his place on the bench when the Supreme Court begins its fall term next month.

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