It was a raucous opening day for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s congressional hearing on Tuesday.
Capitol Hill officers escorted protesters from the Senate sporadically throughout the day’s proceedings, which did not get started in earnest until after a lengthy period of partisan bickering and interruptions.
In general, Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee expressed deep concerns over the fact that the White House invoked executive privilege in withholding roughly 100,000 pages of documents related to Kavanaugh’s work as an attorney within the second Bush administration.
Multiple senators called for an adjournment or postponement of the scheduled hearings in favor of a further review of the nominee’s record.
Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, pressed forward to allow Kavanaugh his opening statement.
BREAKING: Democrats interrupt Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, calling for postponement until time is given for newly released documents to be reviewed pic.twitter.com/zAa1onp9Mi
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“Proper respect and decorum, plus how we normally have done business in a hearing like this,” Grassley said. “We wouldn’t be having all these motions. This is something I’ve never gone through before in 15 Supreme Court nominations. I want to be patient … but I don’t think we should have to listen to the same thing three or four times. I would like to have this be a peaceful session.”
The Washington Times reported that members of the minority interjected with a concern or assertion a total of 44 times in the first hour of the hearing.
Kavanaugh, nominated by Trump to fill the seat vacated by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, defined “a good judge” as “a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy,” according to a transcript of his opening remarks released prior to Tuesday’s hearing.
“I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences,” he said. “I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge. I am not a pro-prosecution or pro-defense judge. I am a pro-law judge.”
He went on to call Kennedy “a mentor, a friend and a hero.”
More than two hours into the proceeding, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., challenged Kavanaugh himself to join the minority calling for more transparency.
“If you believe that your public record is one you can stand behind and defend, I hope that at the end of this you will ask this committee to suspend until we are given all the documents, until we have the time to review them,” he said. “And then we will resume this hearing.”
Much of the Democratic resistance was aimed at perceived obstruction by the Trump administration.
Durbin went on to suggest Kavanaugh would deepen that perception by not complying with the request.
“If your effort today continues to conceal and hide documents, it raises suspicion,” he said.
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