Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court pick, on Friday appeared on track for Senate confirmation after a contentious four-day hearing in which he avoided any major stumbles even as Democrats tried to derail his nomination.
Collins' support is crucial to Kavanaugh's nomination, as Republicans now hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate with the recent confirmation of Sen. "As Judge Kavanaugh clarified at this morning's hearing, he was not expressing his personal views".
The tone in the email from 2003 contrasted with his responses to questions on Wednesday, when he stressed how hard it is to overturn precedents like Roe.
In the 2003 email, which was sent during Kavanaugh's tenure in the George W. Bush administration, the now-judge is responding to an op-ed draft concerning the confirmation of an appeals court nominee.
The tussle over Dems' promise to release the documents in question - which they had questioned Kavanaugh about on Wednesday, to the dismay of Republicans - took up almost an hour of the beginning of Thursday's confirmation hearing. Kavanaugh wrote that "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", which is precisely what pro-abortion rights advocates fear most - and that Kavanaugh would be part of a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to do just that. The document is partially redacted.
Kavanaugh signalled respect for the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide, calling it an important legal precedent that had been reaffirmed by the justices over the decades.
Democrats said Kavanaugh should not confuse birth control with abortion.
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Kavanaugh faced numerous questions regarding his views on executive power and whether the president can pardon himself.
Both Lee and Hatch criticized Sen.
Kavanaugh's answer boils down to: It's too early to say, and it would compromise my independence if I tipped my hand.
The NAACP blasted Kavanaugh as "a risky ideologue whose extreme views on civil rights would solidify a far right majority on the Supreme Court", and more than 100 other civil rights and human rights groups were opposing him, too. Kavanaugh said he didn't talk to anyone at the firm about that.
Kavanaugh completed two days of lengthy questioning by senators on Thursday night, keeping his composure under intense questioning by Democrats.
On a separate track, Sen.
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Leahy then reiterated the need to have more of Kavanaugh's White House records available before a vote confirming the nominee and asked the nominee if additional emails from the Republican operative would be found in unreleased documents.
Much of the debate among senators focused more on the disclosure of documents than on Kavanaugh's record.
"I am right now, before your process is finished, I am going to release the email about racial profiling, and I understand the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate", the New Jersey Democrat said, later adding that he was "knowingly violating the rules". Republicans later said the memos were already cleared for public dissemination.
After Wednesday's session lasted over 12 hours, the latest hearing got off to a tense start over the controversial release of confidential emails.
John Dean, Richard Nixon's White House counsel who cooperated with prosecutors during the Watergate investigation, was among those scheduled to testify later Friday.
Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who released more documents Thursday, stood by his handling of the issue.
"My process was fair", Grassley declared.
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Protesters repeatedly interrupted the hearing by shouting messages opposing Kavanaugh.