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Senators press Kavanaugh in second day of confirmation hearing

By
Doug G. Ware and Sommer Brokaw
Brett Kavanaugh appears before Senate Judiciary Committee
Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh testifies on the third day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Judge Kavanaugh was nominated to fill the seat of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who announced his retirement in June. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Washington, D.C., appellate judge Brett Kavanaugh returned to the Senate Wednesday for another impassioned day of confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump's nominee for the high court bench began the second day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Wednesday morning.

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Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the Yale law school graduate -- who spent 12 years on the federal appeals court -- is highly qualified for the high court.

As Wednesday's hearings progressed, Kavanaugh, 53, faced another grilling from Senate lawmakers with 30-minute rounds of questioning. Members of the panel were aggressive in their questioning Tuesday.

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When asked if President Donald Trump's personal views might influence his decision-making, Kavanaugh said he's an "independent judge" and plans to base decisions on the Constitution. He gave no clear answer, though, when asked about presidential subpoenas and pardons.

That's "something I've never analyzed or written about," Kavanaugh said.

It's a "hypothetical question that I can't begin to answer in this context as a sitting judge and nominee."

RELATED Poll: Americans split on Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., questioned him about controversial topics from abortion to gun control.

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On abortion issue, he said that he would look at "importance of precedence" in Roe vs. Wade. On gun control, Feinstein pressed him on the Supreme Court's majority decision in a case that held semi-automatic rifles are constitutionally protected.

"As a judge, my job was to follow the Second Amendment opinion of the Supreme Court whether I agree with it or disagree with it," Kavanaugh said.

RELATED White House withholds 100,000 pages of Kavanaugh's records

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., questioned Kavanaugh about confidential emails, suggesting he might have misled the Senate about the hacking of Senate Democrats' emails years ago, while he was in the Bush White House.

"We have discovered evidence that Judge Kavanaugh misled the Senate during his 2004 and 2006 hearings," Leahy posted on Twitter. "Truthfulness under oath is not an optional qualification for a Supreme Court nominee."

Grassley also put into the record 70 letters from people opposing his nomination and letters he said supported Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh, nominated by President Donald Trump in July to replace retiring Kennedy, is walking a tightrope trying to allay Democrats' fears that he's too conservative and GOP concerns he isn't conservative enough.

"The Brett Kavanaugh hearings for the future Justice of the Supreme Court are truly a display of how mean, angry, and despicable the other side is," Trump tweeted Wednesday. "They will say anything, and are only ... looking to inflict pain and embarrassment to one of the most highly renowned jurists to ever appear before Congress. So sad to see!"

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If Kavanaugh is approved by the judiciary committee, his nomination will move to the full Senate for confirmation. The panel is expected to finish questioning later this week.

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