RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are in their third day. And again, they have become contentious. Day 1 of questioning revolved a lot around the release of documents. Same today. NPR's Scott Horsley has been monitoring the situation, and he joins us now. Scott, we saw the beginning of these confirmation hearings where there was this tension. Democrats and Republicans were fighting over the release of documents, whether or not they had them to vet Kavanaugh. And now we are seeing something similar? What's happening?
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: That's right. We're seeing a little bit of a rebellion among committee Democrats who are in the minority this morning. This began last night when Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey was questioning Judge Kavanaugh and he referred to an email chain that had to do with racial profiling. He was also asking the judge about affirmative action. This drew objections from Republicans because that email to which Senator Booker was referring is part of a batch of emails that has been labeled committee confidential. That is, members of the committee can see it but they're not allowed to make it public. And the Democrats are unhappy with this.
Separately, just this morning, The New York Times is reporting on a cache of emails from that bunch of committee confidential emails, including a note that Judge Kavanaugh himself wrote when he was a staffer in the Bush White House, the George W. Bush White House, in which he addresses whether the Roe v. Wade abortion decision should be recognized as settled law. So obviously that, you know, touches on the contentious issue of abortion. And Democrats are objecting that these documents are not being made public.
MARTIN: But they have them, right? Like, so they can use them to make their own determination about whether or not to vote for him.
HORSLEY: That's right. But they want the public to be able to see them, too. And, in fact, Senator Booker went so far this morning as to suggest that he would make these documents public in an act of civil disobedience for which he acknowledged the penalty could be as much as having him expelled from the Senate - so sort of a dramatic gesture from Senator Booker this morning, and all of this is kind of pointing to the frustration among committee Democrats that they probably don't see a way to block the nomination of this judge.
MARTIN: Because this is someone who has widespread support, Brett Kavanaugh does, among not just the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee but among mainstream conservatives.
HORSLEY: Well, he certainly has the backing of mainstream conservatives. He has been a loyal foot soldier in the Bush White House, and he's served on the appellate court in Washington for a dozen years. He is a very conservative judge who both supporters and opponents believe would help to cement a 5-4 majority on the high court for possibly decades to come.
MARTIN: The real question, though, is he's President Trump's nominee, and there's concern about his views on executive power.
HORSLEY: That's certainly one of the questions, but they're also concerned about his views on hot button issues such as gun control, abortion and affirmative action.
MARTIN: NPR's Scott Horsley reviewing the ongoing Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nominee confirmation hearings. Thanks so much, Scott.
HORSLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.