Brett Kavanaugh: A reminder on where Supreme Court nominee stands on controversial issues

WASHINGTON – Embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh answered senators’ questions last month on high-profile issues ranging from abortion to gun control to presidential power.

Kavanaugh, an appeals court judge nominated for the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee his views on some of the high court’s most important cases.

Here’s a look at what the judge had to say on some of the most controversial issues:

Presidential power

Kavanaugh could become the deciding vote on whether Trump can be indicted or forced to testify as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Can a sitting president be required to respond to a subpoena?” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked the judge. 

Kavanaugh replied: “I can’t give you an answer on that hypothetical question.” He noted that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other justices – when they were nominees –refused to answer hypothetical questions because they didn’t want to prejudge future cases.

However, Kavanaugh praised the Supreme Court’s landmark 1974 decision in United States vs. Nixon. The court ruled unanimously in that case that President Richard Nixon had to turn over tape recordings and other evidence related to the Watergate scandal.

Kavanaugh called that ruling “one of the greatest moments in Supreme Court history” because the court stood up at a “crisis moment” and showed its independence.

He refused to answer a question about whether the president can pardon himself, as Trump has said he has the right to do. Kavanaugh called it a “hypothetical question that I can’t begin to answer in this context as a sitting judge and nominee.”

Abortion

Kavnaugh is a devout Catholic and some abortion rights advocates fear he might try to overturn Roe vs. Wade – the landmark 1973 case that decided women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

“It has been reported that you have said that Roe is now settled law,” Feinstein said to the judge. “What do you mean by settled law? Do you believe it is correct law?”

Kavanaugh said the case “is an important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times.”

He said the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey had created “precedent upon precedent” by clearly reaffirming Roe in ruling that “matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime … are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Kavanaugh also told Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that “my personal beliefs are not relevant to how I decide cases.”

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