In a contentious first day of confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump's second U.S. Supreme Court pick, Utah's Republican senators called for a tough but fair process with Sen. Orrin Hatch assuring nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh that he would be confirmed.
Marked by raucous interruptions from protestors and Democrats' calls to delay the proceeding, the hearing saw several senators asking for one protester after another to be removed from the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing room. Hatch also complained of the disruptions, at one point calling for a "loudmouth" protestor's removal.
"I don't know that the committee should have to put up with this type of insolence that's going on in this room today," Hatch said as he was repeatedly interrupted by protestors in the audience. "These people are so out of line that they shouldn't even be allowed in the doggone room."
Kavanaugh, a federal judge on the influential Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, was nominated by Trump to the U.S. Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in June.
Hatch, who has had a role in confirming every one of the current justices on the bench, praised Kavanaugh as "highly respected, thoughtful (and) fair-minded" and "one of the most distinguished judges in the entire country."
"We're going to confirm you," the retiring senator told Kavanaugh at the end of his prepared statement.
Committee Democrats started the hearing by asking Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to postpone the hearing after the Senate received tens of thousands of documents Monday night.
Republican senators including Hatch have said Kavanaugh's confirmation process is among the "most thorough" in U.S. history.
Sen. Mike Lee, Utah's junior senator, urged his colleagues to ask Kavanaugh hard questions through his confirmation process, but said senators should refrain from asking nominees how they would rule in a particular case.
"If senators repeatedly ask nominees about outcomes, the public will be more entitled or more inclined to think that judges are supposed to be outcome-minded," Lee said. "This undermines the very legitimacy of the courts."
Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing is expected to continue through the end of the week. If approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh will need approval from a simple majority of the full Senate.