Originally published September 5, 2018 at 9:53 a.m., updated September 5, 2018 at 1:35 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh repeatedly stressed the importance of judicial independence on the second day of his confirmation hearing today as he faced questioning from senators, including Democrats who fear he would be President Donald Trump's man on the high court.
But he declined to address whether Trump could be subpoenaed or could pardon himself.
Pressed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, on whether he would be independent from the president who nominated him, Kavanaugh responded, "No one is above the law."
But asked later by the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, whether a president can be required to respond to a subpoena, Kavanaugh said, "I can't give you an answer on that hypothetical question." The Supreme Court has never answered that question, and it is among the most important at Kavanaugh's hearing since Trump could face a subpoena in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
Kavanaugh also refused to say whether he thinks a president can pardon himself – or provide a pardon in exchange for a bribe or pardon someone on the understanding that the person wouldn't testify against the president.
"I'm not going to answer hypothetical questions of that sort," Kavanaugh said, responding to questions from Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Day two of Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings began much as the first with protesters often interrupting proceedings. More than a dozen protesters hauled out of the hearing room shouting objections to Kavanaugh's nomination.
Despite interruptions, senators plunged into their initial opportunity to publicly question Kavanaugh in what was expected to be a marathon day of examination.
YOUNGSTOWN — In his opening statement today to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh cited the Youngstown Sheet & Tube v. Sawyer case, a 1952 U.S. Supreme Court decision that limited the power of the president.
In that case, President Harry Truman tried to seize Sheet & Tube as private property, but the court rejected it writing he didn’t have that authority under the Constitution or given to him by Congress.
Judge Kavanaugh is testifying today as the Senate decides whether to confirm him to the Supreme Court.
"It's resisting public pressure, political pressure ... treating everyone equally under the law," he said discussing his views on judicial independence.
He specifically cited Justice Tom Clark, who voted with the 6-3 majority to curb Truman's efforts. Clark was a Truman appointee.
Later, when Truman was asked about his biggest mistake as president, he said, “Putting Tom Clark on the Supreme Court of the United States.”