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Kavanaugh insists he will remain independent if confirmed to Supreme Court

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record was put under the microscope during Wednesday’s confirmation hearings. But in tradition with previous Supreme Court nominees, specific answers were hard to come by.

The conservative judge, grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee during day two of hearings. Kavanaugh, pressed on judicial precedent, especially on one of the biggest cases in the Supreme Court’s history: a landmark decision legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade.

 “The important thing to remember about Roe v. Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years,” Kavanaugh said, duly noting the 1992 Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

On presidential power, Kavanaugh seemingly flip-flopped his answer, first this one to California Senator Diane Feinstein…

“Can a sitting president be required to respond to a subpoena?” Sen. Feinstein asked.

“That’s a hypothetical question,” Kavanaugh replied. “I can’t give you an answer to that hypothetical question.”

Then, a short time later, this answer to senate judicary chairman Chuck Grassley.

“Please tell us what judicial independence means to you, including whether you have any trouble ruling against the president who appointed you and against the executive branch in any case before you,” asked Grassley (R-IA).

“No one is above the law in our constitutional system,” Kavanaugh said.

Democrats argue President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh due largely in part to a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article in which Kavanaugh recommends a sitting president should not face criminal or civil charges while in office.

But Kavanaugh insists he would serve independently if confirmed to the high court.

Republicans have just a two-vote majority in the Senate, meaning they may need support from Democrats should some moderate Republicans vote against Kavanaugh. But, as expected, getting Democrats on-board – both on the Judiciary Committee and for a final Senate vote, will prove tough.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Judiciary Committee, previously canceled her meeting with Kavanaugh and said she was a “no” vote. She remained on that side of the fence ahead of her 30-minute question and answer session with the nominee late Wednesday.

 “Whether or not he sways my vote, I want him to be truthful and clear,” Hirono said.

Kavanaugh would become the swing vote on the nine-member court. With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy in July, that leaves four conservative-leaning justices, four liberal-leaning justice, which makes this such a high-stakes decision.

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