INTERNATIONAL

Judge Kavanaugh vows to be a ‘neutral and impartial arbiter’

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.AFPSAUL LOEB  

U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court has pledged to be a neutral “umpire” who favours the law over personal preference. Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s high-profile hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee were to kick off on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. (1330 GMT), with Republicans praising him as a principled and exacting jurist and Democrats furious over what they describe as a lack of transparency about his time in George W. Bush’s White House.

Mr. Kavanaugh said in excerpts of his opening remarks that he is a “pro-law judge” who would bring his impartiality to the nation’s highest court. “A good judge must be an umpire — a neutral and impartial arbiter who favours no litigant or policy,” he said in the excerpts released by the White House. “I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences.”

Judge Kavanaugh, 53, was expected to face punishing questioning from Democrats over his endorsement of presidential immunity and his opposition to abortion.

Confirmation hearing

Mr. Kavanaugh stressed that if confirmed, he would be “committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution,” and would always strive to be “a team player on the Team of Nine”.

Democrats have mobilised heavily to prevent his confirmation.

They have been fiercely critical of the Trump administration for not providing sufficient documentation about Kavanaugh's time in Mr. Bush’s White House, where he may have played key roles in terrorism-related decisions, such as permitting the torture of detainees.