Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said it must "never, never be viewed as a partisan institution."
President Donald Trump's second nominee to the high court spoke Tuesday on the first day of his Senate confirmation hearings. Kavanaugh said the "Supreme Court is the last line of defense for the separation of powers, and for the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution."
The day started with Democrats calling for a delay to the hearings, objecting to the late release of documents the evening before.
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Sen. Kamala Harris of California began a round of Democratic objections as Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley tried to open the hearings Tuesday morning. Harris said that Democrats received approximately 40,000 documents that they have not had time to review. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut also objected, as did Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey says, "We are rushing through this process in a way that is unnecessary."
Grassley responded: "You are taking advantage of my decency and integrity."
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Democrats want to do a good job and are not trying to "create a disruption" by asking for more time to review Kavanaugh's documents. Instead, they're asking: "Majority, give us the time to do our work."
Chairman Grassley shut down the request for a delay, vowing Kavanaugh's hearings will be finished this week. In prepared remarks, Grassley said that Kavanaugh is "the kind of judge Americans want on the Supreme Court" and criticized Democrats for trying "tactic after tactic to delay and obstruct" his confirmation.
Later in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats are "running out of options" to block Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
Speaking from the Senate floor, the Kentucky Republican decried what he called the "the hyperventilation and orchestrated antics" of Democrats. He said Democrats "can't find any substantive reasons" why Kavanaugh shouldn't be confirmed and are trying to distract from his "distinguished record."
Shouting protesters opposed to Kavanaugh repeatedly interrupted the hearing. One shouted, "an illegitimate president cannot make a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court."
For his part, Kavanaugh promised that if confirmed he will "keep an open mind in every case." Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin questioning Kavanaugh on Wednesday.