Brett Kavanaugh disputed whether Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that widely legalized abortion across the US, was “settled law of the land” in 2003 when he was serving in the Bush White House, according to an email obtained by CNN.
“I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so. The point there is in the inferior court point,” Kavanaugh wrote, responding to a draft op-ed that was circulated for edits between lawmakers and White House staff.
What the draft said: The draft, meant to be submitted under the name of “high-profile, pro-choice” women in support of a Bush judicial nominee, had said that “it is widely understood accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land.”
The document was first reported by the New York Times.
Meanwhile, senators are once again returning to why certain documents have been designated committee confidential …
And Blumenthal says, “eventually they will come out” because he thinks that the archives won’t ultimately agree with the designation.
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker said today he is “knowingly violating the rules” and will release a document labeled "committee confidential" on racial profiling, one that he asked Judge Brett Kavanaugh about last night.
"I knowingly violated the rules that were put forth. I'm told the committee confidential rules have knowing consequences. So, sir, I come from a long line as all of us do as Americans of understanding what that kind of civil disobedience is and I understand the consequences."
Booker says he can be ousted for it. "I am before your process is finished, I am going to release the e-mail about racial profiling," he said. "I understand the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate."
Why does this matter? Democrats are angry about the process of keeping some documents committee confidential.
Watch the moment:
At the center of Democrats' unhappiness with how the Kavanaugh hearings have been conducted are documents that were deemed "committee confidential," meaning Senators aren't allowed to ask Judge Brett Kavanaugh questions that specifically reference them.
Many deal with Kavanaugh's time in the Bush White House. As of last night, they remained private, even as Sen. Cory Booker called the process "rigged" and Sen. Kamala Harris offered thinly veiled questions about one email in particular.
This morning, the New York Times published a story detailing emails from Kavanaugh that addressed hot-button issues such as Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, and the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program.
In one email obtained by the Times, Kavanaugh challenged the accuracy of deeming the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision to be “settled law of the land," the paper reported.
Their publication will likely give Democratic senators the ability to ask Kavanaugh specific questions about their contents. They will likely argue that since they are now public, they can no longer be deemed confidential.
During a tense exchange that came late on the second day of confirmation hearings, Sen. Kamala Harris, a 2020 Democratic presidential prospect, pressed Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about whether he had discussed special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation with anyone.
After answering he had, "with other judges I know," Kavanaugh was asked if he had discussed the probe with anyone who works at Kasowitz Benson Torres, the New York law firm founded by President Donald Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz.
Kavanaugh replied that he's unsure he knows everyone who works at that law firm and asked the senator if there was a specific person she was talking about.
Later, Kavanaugh said he would like to know the specific person Harris was thinking of.
Harris fired back, "I think you are thinking of someone, and you don't want to tell us."
A Democratic aide told CNN that "we have reason to believe that a conversation happened and are continuing to pursue it."
No further details were provided by Harris to Kavanaugh during the hearing, and she said she would have questions for the record for Kavanaugh about the issue.
Read the full story here.
A group of about 30 protesters have taken over the front lobby of Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office in Hart.
They are holding signs that say, “Vote no, save Roe” and “Yes means death.” They are also chanting “My body my choice” among other chants.
His staff at the front desk is working like nothing is going on around them. Capitol Hill Police are preparing outside to arrest people -- they are getting the hand ties together now.
A spokesperson for Grassley says he is not in the office at the moment.
The third day of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing will get underway at 9:30 a.m. ET today on Capitol Hill.
Senators will have 20 minutes each for questions and the hearing is expected to run until 6 p.m. ET.
You can watch it in the player above.
The second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who's been tapped by President Donald Trump for US Supreme Court, has wrapped.
The hearing is scheduled to resume on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Here are a few highlights that happened today:
- More protesters: On the first day of the hearing, Capitol Police said they made 70 arrests for protests during the hearing. The protests continued Wednesday, and carried on well into the evening. At one point, police escorted a number of protestors out of the room, and one protester could be heard shouting "Be a hero and vote no. You have a responsibility to all Americans."
- The documents: Senators were still complaining about documents. Coming into the hearing, Sen. Chuck Grassley had allowed several thousand to be designated as “committee confidential.” Members could see them and if they wanted a specific document they could ask to have it made public. Democrats, for the most part refused. They protested the idea that it was Republicans who were in charge of deciding what could be released and not national archives.
- Kavanaugh declines to comment on Trump tweet: Kavanaugh declined to discuss a "political controversy" when asked about President Trump's tweet over the DOJ's indictment of two lawmakers, saying that he thought that "one of the principles of judicial independence" is that judges need to careful about "commenting on current events or political controversies."
- What Trump said: Trump said he had been watching the hearings and was impressed with Kavanaugh's remarks. "I've watched his performance. I've watched his statements and, honestly, they've been totally brilliant," Trump said.
California Sen. Kamala Harris -- a potential 2020 presidential candidate -- pushed Brett Kavanaugh to answer uncomfortable questions about abortion rights, President Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville white supremacist rally and his conversations with attorneys at the law firm representing Trump.
As Kavanaugh deflected questions on Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion rights, Harris asked: "Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?”
“I'm not thinking of any right now, senator,” Kavanaugh responded.
Harris, a former California attorney general whose prosecutorial style, was the last Democrat to ask questions in Wednesday’s marathon hearing. But she broke new ground on some issues -- and prodded Kavanaugh on Trump’s politics, too.
She pointed to Kavanaugh’s claim after being nominated for the Supreme Court that no one had run a vetting process “more wisely” than Trump.
“Did someone tell you to say that?” Harris asked. Kavanaugh said the words were his own.
After questions about laws protecting minorities’ voting rights, she also pressed Kavanaugh on whether he agrees with Trump’s claim that “both sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville last year.
Kavanaugh responded: “I am not here to assess comments made in the political arena, because the risk is I’ll be drawn into the political arena.”
A number of protesters were led out of the room tonight, following a disruption during the confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
One protester shouted, "Be a hero and vote no. You have a responsibility to all Americans."
Watch the moment: