The Kavanaugh hearing shows us just how far the Senate has fallen

Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings begin

"I understand the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate", Booker said before releasing documents related to Kavanaugh's time as a lawyer in the George W. Bush White House. It had been held by the committee as confidential.

Watch a livestream of Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings on this page.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), another undecided moderate who supports abortion rights, told reporters on Thursday that she had only seen "the quick headlines" about the 2003 email. He should have tried to dispel legitimate concerns that Mr. Trump picked him specifically so he would vote to block investigations of the president's actions.

"Our Democratic colleagues want justices who will rubber-stamp efforts like the Obama administration's efforts litigating against the Little Sisters of the Poor", he said.

"In this process I need to uphold the independence of the judiciary", he stated.

Kavanaugh refused to say whether he had "the greatest respect" for Trump, a phrase Booker said he had used when describing Bush.

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Kavanaugh underwent a 12-hour session of questioning that ended late Wednesday. But under questioning by Durbin on the scope of presidential power, Kavanaugh underscored judicial authority.

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

"When a court order requires a president to do something or prohibits a president from doing something under the Constitution or laws of the United States, under our constitutional system, that is the final word", Kavanaugh said.

Democrats are concerned that Kavanaugh will push the court to the right and that he will side with Trump in cases stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign. He said he had not studied whether the president can pardon himself.

If confirmed, Kavanaugh is seen as likely to tilt the top USA court even further to the right.

Democrats have been pressing Kavanaugh for his views on abortion rights, gun control and other issues.

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The committee considering Kavanaugh's nomination will hear from outside witnesses on Friday before the hearing wraps up. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Durbin have led the charge in suggesting that Kavanaugh misled them in earlier testimony, an allegation the nominee firmly denied with the enthusiastic backing of Senate Republicans.

'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, ' Kavanaugh wrote.

"The way we stand up is by deciding cases and controversies independently without fear or favor", Kavanaugh said.

The Associated Press has obtained an email in which Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh disputes that the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion access is settled law. They were released by the committee minutes later.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation tumbled into highly charged arguing today over whether key documents were being withheld, and one Democrat risked Senate discipline by releasing confidential material.

Booker said that he was "knowingly violating the rules" of the Senate and releasing documents that were only made available to senators this week, just before the hearings started.

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If an anti-Roe justice replaced the seat of the late Anthony Kennedy, as Kavanaugh would, there might then be five conservative justices who could wipe out the ruling.

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