The committee expects to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination September 20, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., restated Friday that he expected to hold a confirmation vote before October 1. "If you torpedo Kavanaugh, you'll likely end up with someone worse - less brilliant, less constitutionally knowledgeable, less studious, less open-minded, less good for America".
A multitude of witnesses testify on the final day of Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, including John Dean, Theodore Olson, Akhil Amar, Cedric Richmond, Elizabeth Weintraub, Aalayah Eastmond, and Rochelle Garza.
At one point it felt like it would have been perfectly normal for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to come rolling down the main aisle of the hearing room in a clown auto, honking wildly before hopping out and dousing Kavanaugh with water from a squirt gun.
In refusing to engage on Trump, Kavanaugh declined even to condemn the president's persistent criticisms of the federal judiciary.
Carla Beddard, 34, was one of 15 women who silently walked the halls outside Kavanaugh's hearing dressed in the red cloaks and white bonnets worn by persecuted women in "The Handmaid's Tale", a dystopian novel and television series. Seconds later, a second demonstrator was thrown out of the hearing room, followed by another, followed by another. "Our bodies, our choice". One after another, activists stood to protest Kavanaugh's positions on healthcare, abortion, gun rights or the proceeding itself, interrupting lines of questioning and irritating some Republican committee members.
Kavanaugh signalled respect for the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide, calling it an important legal precedent that had been reaffirmed by the justices over the decades. While questioning Kavanaugh about abortion and the Roe v. Wade decision, she cited a Guttmacher Institute report to claim that between 200,000 and 1.2 million women have died from illegal abortions.
On Friday, Democratic witnesses expressed concern about Kavanaugh's record on a range of issues including affirmative action, the rights of people with disabilities, access to birth control and abortion.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned Kavanaugh about the email Thursday, asking him to clarify what he meant by it.
In his opening statement, Kavanaugh stated, "My judicial philosophy is straightforward". He told the senators that to afford their care they need justices on the Supreme Court who will save the 2010 health care law and its provisions on pre-existing conditions. That's the mantra of any nominee before the Senate, especially when the White House and Senate are in the same party's hands. Kavanaugh is likely to push the conservative-leaning court further to the right, if confirmed.
Guttenberg extended his hand Kavanaugh, but the judge did not.
One lesser-noted part of Kavanaugh's testimony this week pertained to his thoughts about the role of government regulations and the power of administrative agencies.
"Count me in", Durbin said. "I'm not a skeptic of regulation at all". Republicans said they've handed over plenty. He called the Supreme Court a "team of nine committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States". A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law.
Chevron deference has been used to defend environmental, worker and consumer regulations. Other Senate Democrats mentioned as 2020 prospects, such as New York's Kirsten Gillibrand, California's Kamala Harris and Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren, have steered clear of the early presidential proving ground. Kavanaugh struggled to find a response.
In fact, the Civil Rights Division of the Bush Justice Department (where I was working at the time) issued just such guidance in 2003 barring federal law enforcement agencies from racial profiling.
Thursday's contentious hearing kicked off with Senator Cory Booker announcing he publicly released classified documents on Kavanaugh, relating to his service under George W. Bush.
Booker was supported by Democratic Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, bemoaned the "mob rule" at the hearings.
At the end of the week, it's nearly certain that none of the drama changed any minds. The aim, after all, is to win confirmation, and in these partisan times, an ill-chosen phrase can be damaging to a nominee's prospects.