Kavanaugh will likely be confirmed as hearing wraps up

Senators wrapped up Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing Friday, with legal experts making their cases for and against the judge nominated by President Trump.

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Democrats worked into the night Thursday in a last, ferocious attempt to paint Kava­naugh as a foe of abortion rights and a likely defender of the president in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

But the 53-year-old federal appeals-court judge appears on his way to becoming the high court’s 114th justice.

He stuck to a well-rehearsed script throughout his testimony, providing only glimpses of his judicial stances while avoiding any serious mistakes that might jeopardize his confirmation.

Republicans hope to confirm Kavanaugh in time for the first day of the new Supreme Court term, Oct. 1.

On Friday, lawmakers heard from more than two dozen witnesses on both sides of the nomination fight.

Democratic witnesses expressed concern about Kava­naugh’s record on a range of issues, including affirmative action, the rights of people with disabilities, access to birth control and abortion.

NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray told lawmakers Kav­anaugh would provide the “necessary fifth vote that would utterly eviscerate” the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion.

On the Republican side, witnesses testifying in support of Kavanaugh included longtime friends, a former law clerk and a former student. They spoke of his intelligence and open-mindedness, calling him “thoughtful,” “wonderfully warm” and a “fair-minded and independent jurist.”

Yale Law School Professor Akhil Reed Amar, a liberal testifying in support of Kavanaugh, had a message for Democratic senators: “Don’t be mad. He’s smart. Be careful what you wish for. Our party controls neither the White House nor the Senate. If you torpedo Kavanaugh, you’ll likely end up with someone worse.”

John Dean, Richard Nixon’s White House counsel who cooperated with prosecutors during the Watergate investigation, said that confirming Kavanaugh would lead to the “most presidential-powers-friendly” Supreme Court in the modern era.

Dean predicted that with Kav­anaugh on the Supreme Court, it will become “a weak check, at best, on presidential power.”

He said that, according to Kav­anaugh’s view, the president could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue — echoing Trump’s infamous boast — and not be prosecuted, calling the scenario “deeply troubling” and adding that there is “much to fear from an unchecked president who is inclined to abuse his powers.”

Trump, campaigning in Montana Thursday, said the judge deserves bipartisan support and criticized the “anger and the meanness on the other side — it’s sick.”

With Reuters

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