Abortion, gun rights dominate Brett Kavanaugh’s Day 2 Senate hearing
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, is sitting in the hot seat again in Washington on Wednesday with the Democrats grilling him on contentious issues such as abortion and semi-automatic rifles.
During the second day of Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing protesters were also dragged out of the hearing, with one shouting, “sham president, sham justice!”
WATCH: Brett Kavanaugh grilled on his stance on weapons and school shootings
U.S. President Donald Trump picked the 53-year-old to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement in June. If he is confirmed, Kavanaugh would move the Supreme Court, which already has a conservative majority, further to the right.
In retaliation, Senate Democrats have vowed a fierce fight during the week-long hearing.
WATCH: Protests continue on second day of Brett Kavanaugh Senate hearing
Tuesday was the opening session of his hearing and it was dominated by Democrats demanding to see unreleased documents concerning Kavanaugh’s two prior years as a lawyer in Bush’s White House Counsel’s office.
His hearing was also repeatedly disrupted by protesters, some of whom were arrested.
WATCH: Protests erupt at confirmation hearing of Trump SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh
A group of women wearing costumes in the style of the hit television show The Handmaid’s Tale also silently protested outside of the hearing room. Their demonstration was to highlight their concerns over his stance on abortion rights.
And as Day 2 of Kavanaugh’s hearing starts to unfold, here are some of the topics the Democrats have blasted him on.
When Kennedy was on the Supreme Court he had voted to uphold the landmark abortion case, Roe v. Wade.
After his retirement announcement, many anti-abortion activists took to social media to celebrate, calling it “the beginning of the end for abortion.”
Democrats are concerned Kavanaugh could provide a decisive fifth vote on the nine-justice court to overturn or weaken the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion across the United States.
However, Kavanaugh has not expressed outright opposition to Roe.
During the hearing on Wednesday, he said the ruling that legalized abortion is “an important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times.”
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told CNN in August that Kavanaugh informed her that he considers the Supreme Court ruling to be settled law.
WATCH: Alyssa Milano urges people to call reps to prevent Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS appointment
In a 2011 dissent, Kavanaugh argued that the District of Columbia’s assault weapon ban was unconstitutional and that since semi-automatic rifles were “in common use” they should not be banned.
“There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semi-automatic handguns and semi-automatic rifles,” he wrote. “Moreover, semi-automatic handguns are used in connection with violent crimes far more than semi-automatic rifles are.”
When asked about this at the hearing, Kavanaugh defended his opinion, saying it was based on Supreme Court precedent that indicated semi-automatic weapons are in common use.
WATCH: Several people were removed from the room after a pair of protesters began yelling towards Brett Kavanaugh and were promptly removed.
Of course the violence in the schools is something we all detest and want to do something about,” Kavanaugh said.
But handguns and other semi-automatic weapons are also used for hunting and self-defense, he added.
Kavanaugh was questioned about his views on investigating sitting presidents and the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 campaign.
WATCH: Senator Chris Coons asks Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, whether he still believes that a president can fire a prosecutor that is criminally investigating them.
Trump has denied any such collusion and has called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt.”
When Kavanaugh was asked about his thoughts on judicial independence from the executive branch, he replied: “No one is above the law in our constitutional system. No matter who you are in our system … it’s all equal justice under law.”
WATCH: Kamala Harris expresses concerns about SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s allegiance to Trump
He also brought up the case of the United States v. Nixon, when the court unanimously ruled that President Richard Nixon had to turn over tapes that implicated him in the Watergate coverup, saying he would not back off from the president or Congress in the future.
However, in 2009, Kavanaugh wrote a law review article saying presidents should be free from the distractions of civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions and investigations while in office.
WATCH: On his second day of Senate hearings for his nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States, Brett Kavanaugh was questioned by California Senator Dianne Feinstein on guns.
Kavanaugh also sidestepped a question by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein about whether a sitting president can “be required to respond to a subpoena,” a query that could come into play as Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigates potential collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.”I can’t give you an answer on that hypothetical question,” Kavanaugh said.
— With files from Reuters
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