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Witnesses voice concern about and defend Kavanaugh on final day of hearing

On the final day of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Republicans called on colleagues and others who depicted him as a thoughtful man, while Democrats countered with former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, who voiced concerns about expansive views of presidential power. Others raised concerns about abortion and civil rights. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh has now wrapped up.

    President Trump's nominees wasn't in the hot seat himself today. Instead, witnesses were brought in both to defend and to warn about the kind of justice he would be.

  • Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa:

    Do you swear that the testimony you're about to give before…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The day began with the American Bar Association giving Judge Kavanaugh on its highest rating. It found him well-qualified after consulting with more than 500 lawyers, judges and others.

  • John Tarpley:

    They said his integrity is absolutely unquestioned. He is a person of the highest morality and the highest ethics. He is what he seems, very decent, humble and honest.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Republicans called former students, colleagues and law clerks of Kavanaugh's. They depicted him as a thoughtful man and teacher, with a record of hiring women and minorities.

  • Luke McCloud:

    I always knew that Judge Kavanaugh had come to his position honestly, based on a rigorous analysis of the strength and weaknesses of the arguments before him. There was no hidden agenda or partisan axe to grind, just the law, always the law.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Democrats countered with former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, who famously cooperated with prosecutors during Watergate.

  • John Dean:

    If Judge Kavanaugh joins the court, it will be the most presidential-powers-friendly court in the modern era.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Dean voiced concerns about Kavanaugh's expansive views of presidential power and whether he would block any subpoena of President Trump in the Russia investigation.

  • John Dean:

    The fact that we have a president who is unchecked right now by other branches makes it particularly timely to be worried afresh, given the Kavanaugh positions on so many cases that would enhance presidential power.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Democrats also called Rochelle Garza, the lawyers represented Jane Doe, a migrant teenager in federal detention who wanted an abortion.

    As a federal appeals, Judge Kavanaugh ruled against her, before the full court overturned him.

  • Rochelle Garza:

    Throughout her ordeal, I saw her suffer. No politician or judge saw firsthand what she went through. As she later said, "It has been incredibly difficult for the — to wait in the shelter for news that judges in Washington, D.C., have given me permission to proceed with my decision."

  • Judy Woodruff:

    This week, Kavanaugh called Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court abortion rights case, an important precedent.

    But Melissa Murray, a New York University law professor, said Kavanaugh didn't follow precedent in the Jane Doe case or in another case, denying birth control coverage because of an employer's religious beliefs.

  • Melissa Murray:

    I think it's clear from Judge Kavanaugh's judicial record, Senators, that he is not a jurist in the mold of Justice Kennedy, who frequently upheld these precedents.

    Judge Kavanaugh, in these decisions, has evinced a crabbed and narrow understanding of the right to liberty.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Disability rights advocates also criticized Kavanaugh for limiting their legal autonomy in a previous ruling and refusing to say if he would protect the Affordable Care Act.

  • Jackson Corbin:

    I speak for every person with a disability who will never be able to live independently. Most importantly, I speak for every American whose life could change tomorrow with a new diagnosis.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Witnesses supporting Kavanaugh's pushed back, defending him as a fair-minded an independent jurist.

  • Kenneth Christmas:

    I understand the concerns, but the man I know is generous with his time and thought. And I love the discussion about process. He seeks to not be influenced by people outside, and he's one of the most prepared, thoughtful people I know.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the nomination as early as next week. A full Senate vote would follow later this month.

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