One of the most memorable moments from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing took place during a lunch break, when Kavanaugh turned his back on the father of a teen who was shot and killed during the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, attempted to shake hands with Kavanaugh as he left his seat for a break. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced Guttenberg, and while it wasn’t immediately clear whether Kavanaugh recognized Guttenburg, cameras caught him looking Guttenberg up and down, and then pulling his hand back and walking away.
“Just walked up to Judge Kavanaugh as morning session ended,” Guttenberg tweeted on Tuesday. “Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg's dad. He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence.”
In response to Guttenberg’s tweet, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah wrote on Twitter that the reason Kavanaugh didn’t shake hands with Guttenburg was because security escorted him away.
“As Judge Kavanaugh left for his lunch break, an unidentified individual approached him,” Shah tweeted. “Before the judge was able to shake his hand, security had intervened.”
Guttenberg responded to Shah’s assertion, saying that Kavanaugh knew exactly who he was. “I was here all day and introduced by Senator Feinstein,” Guttenberg tweeted back to Shah. “No security involved. He turned and walked away.”
The timing wasn’t immediately clear, and it’s difficult to tell if Kavanaugh turned away from Guttenberg before of after his security intervened. Either way, though, it sparked the already intense conversation on gun control issues during the hearing.
Many Democrats brought up gun control in their opening remarks, and California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein was particularly outspoken on the issue.
“I'd like to address the president's promise to appoint a nominee blessed by the NRA,” she said. “In District of Columbia v. Heller, you wrote that ‘unless guns were regulated either at the time the Constitution was written or traditionally throughout history, they cannot be regulated now.’”
She continued to tell him that if the Supreme Court adopts his belief that banning assault weapons is unconstitutional, “I fear the number of victims would continue to grow and citizens would be rendered powerless in enacting gun laws.”
After the handshake mishap, California Democrat Kamala Harris tweeted: “If Kavanaugh won’t even give him a handshake, how can we believe he would give gun violence victims a fair shake in court?”
Cover image: Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg who was killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., left, attempts to shake hands with President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, right, as he leaves for a lunch break while appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, to begin his confirmation to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh did not shake his hand. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)