POLITICS
09/07/2018 09:38 am ET Updated Sep 07, 2018

Read More Updates From Brett Kavanaugh's Confirmation Hearing

Outside legal experts and witnesses are slated to speak on Friday.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing continues Friday, with outside legal experts and witnesses expected to speak.

President Donald Trump announced Kavanaugh as his pick to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on July 9.

Read live updates on the hearing below (you may need to refresh the page to see the latest updates):

4:27 p.m. ET

And that’s a wrap on the Senate judiciary committee’s hearings on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

― Sara Boboltz

4:22 p.m. ET

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) was less than impressed with John Dean, and made sure Dean knew it.

“Mr. Dean, I don’t care about your politics, I really don’t,” Kennedy said. “I have friends on both sides of the aisle. Like Sen. [Richard] Blumenthal [D-Conn.], I remember vividly the early 1970s as well, when you worked in the White House. I think you and your co-conspirators hurt my country.”

“I believe in second chances, but you did the right thing ultimately, but you only did it when you were cornered like a rat,” Kennedy went on. “It’s hard for me to take your testimony seriously. I couldn’t sleep tonight if I didn’t tell you that.”

― Ryan Grenoble

4:21 p.m. ET

“I think he left because the man, at his core, had a respect for the rule of law,” John Dean, a key Watergate figure, said of his former boss, President Richard Nixon. Dean provided important testimony against Nixon in the Watergate hearings implicating the White House in a cover-up scheme.

“That’s one of the differences I find today,” added Dean, a known critic of President Trump. “Mr. Trump, I don’t think he’d resign. He couldn’t begin to care less about the rule of law.”

― Sara Boboltz

3:55 p.m. ET

Ohio State University law Professor Peter Shane drives home the point made by earlier panelists concerned about the expansion of presidential power ― particularly in the era of President Trump.

“Our current president daily expresses his contempt for democratic institutions and the rule of law,” Shane says. “He believes that all three branches of government, not to mention the press and the private sector, should heel to his personal command. He chafes at the Constitution’s constraints on his power. Now is a dangerous moment to elevate to the Supreme Court any justice who would weaken the president’s accountability to law.”

― Ryan Grenoble

3:40 p.m. ET

The warnings from experts who say Kavanaugh poses a structural threat to our democracy continue. Georgetown law Professor Lisa Heinzerling says Kavanaugh’s record points to a clear desire to limit Congress’ ability to support administrative agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to function independently of the political whims of the executive branch.

“Judge Kavanaugh believes that the basic problem with the structure of government today is that the president has too little power, and that Congress has too much,” Heinzerling says. “Judge Kavanaugh believes that one of the constitutionally guaranteed powers of the president is the power to fire agency officials for any reason he deems sufficient ― even where Congress has made a different choice.”

“The result would be a super-powerful president, a diminished Congress, and a corrosion of the checking and balancing that the Constitution contemplates,” she says. “Under Judge Kavanaugh’s constitutional theory, the president would be able to exercise undiluted control over all of the administrative agencies.”

― Ryan Grenoble

3:25 p.m. ET

Former State Department lawyer and current Boston University law Professor Rebecca Ingber is echoing John Dean’s concerns about Kavanaugh’s repeated failures to check presidential power.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions reveal that he is exceedingly reluctant to impose checks on the president’s powers in the national security sphere,” she says. “This is not an area where Judge Kavanaugh has merely followed precedent with his hands tied.”

Ingber points to an 87-page opinion Kavanaugh wrote regarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay that argued a president’s war powers need not be informed by international law.

“These are not rules imposed on us by some outside source,” she says. “The international laws of war, for example, are rules that we have affirmatively chosen to be bound by, specifically in wartime, in which the United States, including the U.S. military, has always played a principal role in shaping.”

― Ryan Grenoble

3:10 p.m. ET

John Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, is warning the senators that Kavanaugh poses a structural threat to U.S. democracy.

“If Judge Kavanaugh joins the court, it will be the most presidential powers-friendly court in the modern era,” Dean says. “Republicans and conservatives only a few years ago... fought the expansion of presidential power and executive powers. That’s no longer true.”

“Judge Kavanaugh has a very broad view of presidential powers,” he continues. “For example, he would have the Congress immunize sitting presidents from both civil and criminal liability. Under Judge Kavanaugh’s recommendation, if a president shot somebody in cold blood on Fifth Avenue, that president could not be prosecuted while in office.”

― Ryan Grenoble

2:48 p.m. ET

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) just dismissed the afternoon’s first panel and is welcoming the last group of the day.

― Ryan Grenoble

2:30 p.m. ET

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is addressing the three teenagers who came to testify, and he’s painting an accurate ― if dour ― picture of the current political climate.

“This is a very one-sided place, and the forces that have the most money and that make the most money are able to use it here in ways that keep it very, very unbalanced,” he tells Hunter Lachance, a 15-year-old from Maine whose asthma keeps him inside on heavily polluted days.

“My concern is that the current Republican majority on the Supreme Court and the decisions of Justice Kavanaugh reflect a desire to enhance that power. To defer decisions that the court could make into this very unbalanced forum. To diminish the regulatory agencies, where there’s the actual expertise to understand, say, how chlorofluorocarbons work.”

Whitehouse did end on a more optimistic note: “I just wanted to say thank you, well done, don’t ever give up,” he told the teenagers. “Those other forces may be big, but this is still our country.”

― Ryan Grenoble

1:55 p.m. ET

Maureen Mahoney, a former colleague of Kavanaugh’s at the solicitor general’s office, describes the judge as “brilliant,” “gracious” and “a model of the proper judicial disposition.”

She’s touting Mahoney’s record of mentoring women, helping them earn elite positions like federal clerkships. It’s a bit odd to hear her emphasize this, since of the 113 Supreme Court justices in U.S. history, all but six have been white men. If appointed, Kavanaugh will only perpetuate that imbalance.

― Ryan Grenoble

1:46 p.m. ET

Thirteen-year-old Jackson Corbin is testifying on behalf of people with pre-existing health conditions. Corbin says he has a genetic disorder called Noonan syndrome.

“I speak for every American whose life could change tomorrow with a new diagnosis,” he tells the senators. “My Noonan syndrome is a part of who I am. It’s been a part of me since the day I was born and will be part of me for the rest of my life. If you destroy protections for pre-existing conditions, you’ll leave me ― and all kids and adults like me ― without care and the ability to afford our care.”

― Ryan Grenoble

1:37 p.m. ET

“Too many dangerous... people continue to be able to readily access and use dangerous weapons to terrorize Americans at home, work, church, school and on our streets and anywhere we go on our day-to-day life,” Eastmond said. “As you consider what to do and who to appoint to make us safer from gun violence, remember my story. Remember my classmates who died. Remember the victims of color that face mass shootings every day.”

Referencing Kavanaugh’s pointed refusal to shake hands with Fred Guttenberg, a Parkland father whose daughter died in the shooting, Eastmond continued: “If Kavanaugh doesn’t have the decency to shake hands with the father of a victim, he definitely won’t have the decency to make life-changing decisions that affect real people.”

― Ryan Grenoble

1:26 p.m. ET

Stark contrast in witnesses here as we jump from A.J. Kramer, a federal public defender who’s worked with Kavanaugh and testified the judge “asks questions in an extremely nice manner.”

Next witness up is Aalayah Eastmond, a Parkland shooting survivor who recounted her horrific experience with gun violence at the Florida high school earlier this year. Eastmond survived by sheltering behind the lifeless body of one of her classmates. “I began talking to God,” she says. “I told God that I knew I was going to die. I asked him, ‘Please make it fast.’ I didn’t want to feel anything. I asked for the bullet to go through my head so I wouldn’t endure any pain.”

― Ryan Grenoble

1:11 p.m. ET

We’re back from a 30-minute break. A new eight-person panel includes a handful of students, including one who survived the Parkland school shooting.

― Ryan Grenoble

12:50 p.m. ET

While U.S. Capitol Police arrested more than 200 protesters over the first three days of Kavanaugh’s hearings, there were noticeably fewer disruptions Friday morning. Not much unscheduled shouting has penetrated the room so far.

― Sara Boboltz

12:40 p.m. ET

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) asked panelist Elizabeth Weintraub, the advocate for people with disabilities, to explain how Kavanaugh might affect people like her. As she did in her planned remarks, Weintraub used the Jane Doe abortion case to illustrate how she believed Kavanaugh would use the power of his position to take away individuals’ right to self-determination. She believed Doe’s right to make her own health care decisions should have been respected and stressed that people with disabilities should have the same right ― even if they need to bring in family members to help them understand the choices.

“The best thing is: Nothing about us without us,” she said. “We need to be told, we need to be involved in these decisions.”

And now, a half-hour lunch break.

― Sara Boboltz

12:33 p.m. ET

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) accused Kavanaugh of using his opinion in the Jane Doe abortion case to put himself in the running as a potential Supreme Court nominee. Kavanaugh last year used an alarmist term, “abortion on demand,” to describe the teenager’s request when she had complied with Texas law.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said the term was one of several “dog whistles” Kavanaugh has used, naming “racial spoils system” as another example. Harris previously said the term “racial spoils system,” which Kavanaugh used in an op-ed to describe a government program for Native Hawaiians, had been co-opted by white nationalists.

― Sara Boboltz

12:10 p.m. ET

“The right to liberty that is enumerated in the Constitution is not fossilized in amber,” Melissa Murray, an NYU law professor, said at the hearing. “It has changed over time to admit individuals who were not included within the body of ‘the people’ at the time of its founding.”

“Decisions like the right to marry... we didn’t have a situation where individuals who wish to marry a person of the same sex could do so until just 2015,” she went on. “These decisions are all in peril by a justice who would follow history and tradition unfailingly.”

― Sara Boboltz

11:29 a.m. ET

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who potentially broke Senate rules this week by reading aloud from a “committee confidential” document during Kavanaugh’s hearing, tweeted Friday that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) needs to get his story straight if he’s going to threaten punishment.

Booker may have violated rules by reading from that document, and he made a show of going around Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to release a handful of “committee confidential” records ― that is, documents about Kavanaugh that Grassley said could only been seen by committee members. But it turns out Republicans had pre-cleared Booker’s documents for release the night before.

Amid the confusion, Cornyn went from threatening Booker with repercussions for releasing the documents to backing off and saying he didn’t know they had been pre-cleared ― and then back to threatening repercussions on Friday.

Most of this was political theater. But it was odd for Cornyn to go back to threatening consequences for Booker, who called him out for trying to have it both ways.

 ― Jennifer Bendery

11:26 a.m. ET

“What I am most worried about is Roe goes down,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said.

She asked attorney Rochelle Garza and NYU law Professor Melissa Murray to elaborate on last year’s Jane Doe abortion case. Both described Kavanaugh’s opinion as one that would delay the process of obtaining an abortion in Texas, flying in the face of existing law.

Sara Boboltz

11:11 a.m. ET

Eighth on the panel: Colleen Roh Sinzdak, a former student of Kavanaugh’s who said the judge became a mentor figure. She said her support might be surprising because she is a registered Democrat.

Ninth: Melissa Murray, a law professor at New York University, who said reproductive rights “are under serious threat in this country.” She said Kavanaugh would certainly help dismantle Roe v. Wade, which she called part of a century’s worth of jurisprudence.

“A vote for Judge Kavanaugh is a vote against Roe,” Murray said.

Tenth and last: Akhil Reed Amar, a law professor at Yale, who praised Kavanaugh’s views on constitutional issues.

― Sara Boboltz

10:49 a.m. ET

Fifth on the panel: Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), who said Kavanaugh would reverse decades of advancements for civil rights and the black community.

Sixth: Theodore Olson, former solicitor general for the George W. Bush administration, who praised Kavanaugh’s intelligence and independence.

Seventh: Alicia Baker of Indiana, who described herself as a “pro-life” Christian and who advocates for contraceptive access. Baker described her struggle to pay for birth control as a married woman, and said Kavanaugh does not respect the separation of church and state.

“What happens to those who face the impossible choice between the health care they need or paying for birth control?” she said, her voice nearly breaking.

Sara Boboltz

10:34 a.m. ET

Third on the panel: Louisa Garry, Kavanaugh’s running buddy. Fourth: Elizabeth Weintraub, a senior advocate at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, which strongly opposes Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Weintraub spoke about living with a disability, an experience that has included being institutionalized against her will, and said Kavanaugh does not respect the importance of self-determination for the disabled.

Sara Boboltz

10:25 a.m. ET

Up first on the panel of 10 witnesses — five for Republicans and five for Democrats — was Luke McCloud, a former clerk for Kavanaugh who spoke glowingly of his former boss and described his diverse staff.

Up second was Rochelle Garza, an immigration attorney who served as legal guardian to Jane Doe, the pregnant undocumented 17-year-old who wanted an abortion in Texas last fall. Kavanaugh was criticized for his opinion that Doe should consult with a third party before settling on the procedure. She had already complied with the abortion requirements laid out in Texas law.

“Her resolve was strong, and she was very certain about her decision to terminate her pregnancy,” Garza said.

Garza was with Doe when she eventually obtained the abortion. According to Garza, the teen did not understand why people she didn’t know were trying to influence her, saying, “I made my decision and that is between me and God.”

Sara Boboltz

10:12 a.m. ET

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) returned to his argument from earlier in the week that Kavanaugh’s decisions benefit corporate interests roughly 90 percent of the time. The two American Bar Association panelists said they did not notice any “pattern” to the judge’s decisions.

Sara Boboltz

9:49 a.m. ET

ABA evaluator John Tarpley says the organization’s review of Kavanaugh considered his “character and general reputation in the community.” About 500 people were interviewed; Kavanaugh received the ABA’s highest rating.

Sara Boboltz

9:41 a.m. ET

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has gaveled in the hearing. First up is a panel from the American Bar Association to explain how it evaluated Kavanaugh.

Sara Boboltz

9:35 a.m. ET

CBS reports that Kavanaugh’s prep for his confirmation hearing included mock protesters. It would have been an appropriate inclusion, as protesters frequently disrupted the first three days of the actual hearing.

― Paige Lavender

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