The less said, the better. That’s the mantra of any nominee before the Senate, especially when the White House and Senate are in the same party’s hands. The aim, after all, is to win confirmation, and in these partisan times, an ill-chosen phrase can be damaging to a nominee’s prospects.Like high court nominees before him, Judge Brett Kavanaugh stuck to the script and said only as much as he thought he had to over two days of testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee.WATCH: Kavanaugh jokes he will play on SCOTUS basketball court
Still, Kavanaugh revealed a few things about himself, professionally and personally.Here are a few things we learned about President Donald Trump’s choice for the high court
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Kavanaugh’s view on what gun control is permissible “is out of touch with reality.”
Kavanaugh supporters say he was just repeating language used by the groups that filed the lawsuit, though his 2015 opinion did not use those words.
As Justice Kagan put it, you can’t as a nominee in this seat give a thumbs up or thumbs down. That was — that’s her word,” he said in declining to say whether Kennedy’s 2015 opinion extending same-sex marriage nationwide was correct.He answered similarly when asked about abortion and “just the whole body of modern Supreme Court case law.” Kagan, incidentally, was the dean at Harvard Law School who hired Kavanaugh to teach there.
“What I found that was striking is that in the 12 years you’ve been on the D.C. Circuit, of all the matters that you and Chief Judge Garland have voted on together, that you voted together 93 percent of the time,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.Less than two weeks before the 2016 election, Cruz suggested the Senate’s refusal to act on Garland’s nomination might continue even if Hillary Clinton ultimately won election.Kavanaugh called Garland “a great judge – a great chief judge, and he’s very careful, and very hardworking, and we work well together.”
But the sports references didn’t stop there. He called the Supreme Court a “team of nine committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States.” That image stood in contrast to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ more stinging description of the court as “nine scorpions in a bottle.”
Kavanaugh jokes he will play on SCOTUS basketball court
THE REAL WORLDKavanaugh said repeatedly that he is aware of the consequences of his decisions, including in his dissenting opinion that would have struck down Washington, D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic assault weapons.
Kavanaugh says president is not immune to lawsuits
BUT THAT’S TOO REALSen. Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic, posed a real-world question when he asked Kavanaugh to weigh in about Trump’s recent tweet that criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department for indicting two Republican congressman ahead of the midterm elections and “putting two easy wins in doubt.”Kavanaugh would not not bite on that or any question dealing with Trump’s attacks on prosecutors or federal judges. “I don’t think we want judges commenting on the latest political controversy,” Kavanaugh said.
CODE WORDSOpponents of Kavanaugh’s nomination pounced on his use of certain terms in the context of abortion and affirmative action to assert that he was sending a signal to conservatives that he is on their side, despite his measured rhetoric.Explaining his opinion in a case involving religiously affiliated groups that object to paying for contraception under the Affordable Care Act, Kavanaugh referred to “abortion-inducing drugs,” a term often used by abortion opponents to describe some contraceptives.WATCH: Kavanaugh says president can be sued for conduct before presidency
Kavanaugh says president can be sued for conduct before presidency
SHOWING KAGAN SOME LOVEWilliam Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy may be Kavanaugh’s judicial heroes, but the nominee invoked Justice Elena Kagan, a nominee of President Barack Obama, more than any of them at the hearing.Kagan’s name escaped Kavanaugh’s lips more than 40 times over two days, most often to provide cover for his refusal to weigh in on issues that could come before the court. “WATCH: Kavanaugh clarifies if he spoke about Mueller at Trump’s lawyer’s law firm
Kavanaugh clarifies if he spoke about Mueller at Trump’s lawyer’s law firm
SPEAKING OF DEMOCRATIC NOMINEESKavanaugh had kind words for his appellate court colleague and chief judge, Merrick Garland, whose nomination by Obama Senate was essentially ignored by Republicans in 2016.
Kavanaugh says president must comply with law over torture
A SPORTING GUYFootball, baseball, basketball, hockey and lacrosse all got mentions from the sports-crazed Kavanaugh, who even identified the seats he and his father had at professional football games in Washington.On his final day of testimony Thursday, Kavanaugh’s two daughters were among roughly 20 girls in Catholic school uniforms — players on basketball teams he has coached — who marched into the hearing room and took up seats behind Kavanaugh to make for an irresistible, if contrived, photo op.WATCH: Kavanaugh asked about email questioning if Roe v. Wade was settled law
Kavanaugh asked about email questioning if Roe v. Wade was settled law
THE MALE BODYOne of the few times Kavanaugh seemed thrown, even momentarily, was when Harris, the California Democrat, found a new way to ask Kavanaugh about abortion.“Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?” she asked.
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