It was inevitable President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, would be pummeled over his stance on a woman’s right to abortion during his Senate Judiciary Committee questioning — and it was just as inevitable he'd try to avoid answering the questions directly.
“I understand how passionate and how deeply people feel about this issue. I understand the importance of the issue,” Kavanaugh said after the topic was first raised during the hearing Wednesday.
Trump himself has made it clear that he hopes do away with the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized the procedure across the country, kicking the issue back to the states instead. But nominees typically get to dodge offering their direct views on abortion by simply stating that Roe is “settled law,” or precedent.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, shot off the first round of Roe-related questions Wednesday morning, noting that “a lot of women died” when abortion was illegal. She asked what Kavanaugh meant when he said that Roe was “settled law,” and whether he agreed with the law itself.
“One of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v. Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years,” Kavanaugh responded. But Feinstein emphasized that she wanted to know how Kavanaugh would vote if such a case were presented before him, and demanded a “yes” or “no” answer on whether he would reaffirm the rulings in Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey. But Kavanaugh didn’t give that “yes” or “no” response, answering instead another question that no one had asked: Does he live in a bubble, and if not, where does he live?
“I don't live in a bubble. I live in the real world; I understand the importance of the issue,” Kavanaugh said.
His response will do little to assuage the protesters and advocates who have honed in on the law as a rallying point, however. Of the 70 protesters arrested during the committee’s opening statements regarding Kavanaugh on Tuesday, a whopping 63 were women. And as more people were arrested Wednesday morning and escorted out of the hearing, one person could be heard on the live stream shouting, “Save Roe, vote no!”
In October 2017, when he was a D.C. appeals court judge, Kavanaugh and two other judges chose to halt a district order that would've allowed an undocumented teen in federal custody to get an abortion. The full D.C. Circuit panel later reversed that decision, and Kavanaugh argued the reversal was “ultimately based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong: a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. Government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand."
Cover image: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh answers questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the second day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.