WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn worked to pick apart Democrats’ concerns about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s impartiality on Wednesday, the second day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
In response to Democrats bringing up Kavanaugh’s tenure as a staff secretary in Republican President George W. Bush’s White House, Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, sought to reaffirm the nominee’s commitment to impartiality by bringing up a 2012 case that came before him when he was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia where the defendant was Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard and driver.
When asked by Cornyn why Kavanaugh ruled in favor of the defendant — and wrote the majority opinion in the case — despite his having worked in the White House after Sept. 11, Kavanaugh responded, “Even the most unpopular possible defendant is still entitled to due process and rule of law, and I’ve tried to do that as a judge.”
Other parts of Wednesday’s hearing dealt with the subject of abortion. Kavanaugh has written few judicial opinions on the practice, but his nomination has been protested by liberal activists who argue that his being on the high court could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion and now serves as a precedent in deciding other abortion cases.
During the hearing, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, pressed Kavanaugh on a dissenting opinion he wrote in a 2017 decision that allowed an undocumented and unaccompanied minor being held in Texas to receive an abortion. Durbin accused Kavanaugh of adding requirements to Texas’ parental consent laws, but Kavanaugh pushed back.
“I’m not adding. I’m a judge. The policy is being made by others,” Kavanaugh said. “I’m deciding whether the policy is consistent with Supreme Court precedent.”
Ted Cruz, Cornyn’s fellow Texas Republican on the committee, also questioned Kavanaugh on Wednesday, focusing his remarks on separation of powers, federalism and constitutional rights. He also admonished protesters who interrupted him and Cornyn several times during the hearing.
If Kavanaugh is confirmed to the bench, he could have a hand in deciding two Texas cases that may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. The state is suing the federal government over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era initiative that gives legal status to about 800,000 people brought to the United States illegally by their parents, as well as over former President Barack Obama’s signature health law.
“I want to reassure everyone that I base my decisions on the law, but I do so with an awareness of the facts and an awareness of the real-world consequences,” Kavanaugh said Wednesday. “I’ve not lived in a bubble.”