In his opening remarks, Judge Kavanaugh vowed to uphold the attributes of an ideal judge and remain “a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy.”
Will any Republicans ask tough questions?
Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, critiqued President Trump during his opening statement, citing a Twitter post last weekend that attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to convey his concerns about presidential power.
Despite the senator’s criticism on Tuesday, Republicans are unlikely to offer any tough opposition. Instead, Democrats on the committee — many of whom are toying with possible presidential runs in 2020 — are poised to supply the most aggressive lines of questioning.
Comfortable in their ability to confirm Judge Kavanaugh with a simple majority vote, Republicans hailed him as an outstanding jurist to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
‘The noise of democracy’ or ‘mob rule’?
Tuesday’s hearing was unusually chaotic for what is generally a sedate legislative process: Dozens of protesters were hauled from the room and arrested, while Democratic lawmakers engaged in their own theatrics and frequently interrupted with demands and objections.
[Democrats sought to portray Judge Kavanaugh as a hopeless partisan.]
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican, accused Democrats of participating in “mob rule,” as Senator Richard J. Durbins, Democrat of Illinois, proclaimed that the demonstrations were “the noise of democracy.”
But with Wednesday offering the first opportunity for lawmakers to question Judge Kavanaugh, it is unclear what disruptions, if any, will emerge. Several senators with presidential aspirations, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala D. Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, are likely to continue to use the proceedings to emphasize their opposition to the current administration and build material for future campaigns.
Mr. Grassley, who held the hearing over a call from Democrats to delay it, has already promised to maintain a tighter grip on the proceedings.
[Takeaways from Day 1 of the confirmation hearings.]
The shadow of President Trump’s legal troubles
Democrats are expected to grill Judge Kavanaugh on his opinion of the scope of executive power, particularly whether a sitting president should be protected from investigations while in office.
Several lawmakers argued in their opening statements that the judge would be sympathetic to Mr. Trump, should such a situation arise, and that he was considered a potential ally for the president. It is likely that they will press the judge on his shifting views on the subject.
“I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences,” Judge Kavanaugh said in his opening remarks, adding, “I am a pro-law judge.”
And while Republicans objected to the depiction of Judge Kavanaugh as a partisan judge, his résumé points to a history of conservative political advocacy, including a stint in President George W. Bush’s administration.