As Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley began reading his opening statement, he was interrupted by Democratic Sen.
They plan to press Kavanaugh on abortion, gun rights and his ability to be independent of Trump, among other issues. He has been on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for 12 years and has authored 307 opinions, concurrences and dissents.
Kavanaugh stands to inherit Justice Anthony Kennedy's seat on the court, and there is no seat more important.
Protesters, mostly women, took turns yelling as senators spoke, shouting, "This is a travesty of justice", "Our democracy is broken" and "Vote no on Kavanaugh". "And she taught me that good judges must always stand in the shoes of others".
Democrats, including several senators poised for 2020 presidential bids, had tried to block the formal proceedings Tuesday in a dispute over Kavanaugh records withheld by the White House.
Politico, citing unnamed sources, reported that during a Labor Day conference call, Democratic senators debated whether to walk out in protest of the Republican opposition to the release of millions of pages of missing Kavanaugh documents. He says he wants the losing party to say "Kavanaugh gave me a fair shake".
The panel's top Democrat, Sen.
Feinstein argued that Kavanaugh's opinion in Garza v. Hargan - a case the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard previous year - showed that from her perspective, he was wrong on abortion.
Democrats painted him as a right-wing extremist who would fail to hold Trump accountable.
Democrats said they wanted to see all of the documents from his time as White House staff secretary before the hearings, but Republicans did not request those documents, arguing they were irrelevant to his nomination. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, I will keep an open mind in every case. So Republicans have released only those documents they consider most relevant - about 440,000 pages for senators to see, and fewer than 300,000 publicly.
"There's a 35-month black hole in your White House career where we've been denied access to any and all documents", Durbin said.
After hours of the fireworks, the nominee himself struck a more neutral tone, stressing that the high court "must never, never be viewed as a partisan institution". Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy asked. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
"There's an old saying for trial lawyers: If you have the facts, pound the facts. We're seeing a lot of table pounding this morning", Cruz said. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, as committee Democrats pushed repeatedly to postpone the hearing.
"Their motives are clear", said Sen. Unfortunately, the process has become so embarrassing and such an obvious put-on that few can trust either side to nominate and confirm justices truly interested in that kind of reformed view of the judiciary.
Kavanaugh also points out that decisions impact real people and is just not about theory (Klobuchar mentioned something similar yesterday). Not the U.S. Supreme Court.
He worked under special counsel Kenneth Starr in his investigation into President Bill Clinton's relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s.
"I believe it is vital that the President be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible", Kavanaugh wrote.
Feinstein takes issue with that approach.
Kavanaugh also is likely to face questions about his views on investigating sitting presidents and the ongoing probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.
Afterwards, he said, he was allowed to return as the hearing continued.
"And it's that president who has decided you are his man".
"I think we ought to have this loudmouth removed", Hatch said. "Are people nervous about this concerned about this?"