President Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing this week was repeatedly interrupted by protesters hostile to Kavanaugh, while the nominee endured back-to-back days of lengthy questioning, all the while remaining in good humor and making no gaffes that were likely to derail his confirmation in a Senate narrowly controlled by Republicans, despite the efforts of Democrats opposed to him.

Pressured by Democrats, Kavanaugh rejected repeated efforts at the Senate confirmation hearing to reveal his views about a president pardoning himself or being forced to testify in a criminal case.    Some liberals have expressed deep concern that Kavanaugh could be a “rubber stamp” for Trump and protect him from lawsuits and investigations.

Kavanaugh insisted to probing senators that he fully embraced the importance of judicial independence.  He also would not say whether he believes the president can be subpoenaed to testify.  “I am not going to answer hypothetical questions of that sort,” Kavanaugh said in response to a question from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) about pardons.  However, in a long day in the witness chair, he declared that “no one is above the law.”

Democrats expressed concern that Kavanaugh will push the court to the right on abortion, guns, and other issues, and that he will side with President Trump in cases stemming from special counsel Robert Meuller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

Democrats also pressed the conservative federal appeals court judge over newly released emails regarding his views on abortion and racial issues after a partisan fight over the public release of the documents.  The documents, which were released on Thursday, dated from Kavanaugh’s service in the White House under Republican President George W. Bush more than a decade ago.

The 53-year-old appellate judge answered cautiously when asked about most of those matters, refusing an invitation from Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to pledge to step aside from any Supreme Court cases dealing with Trump and Mueller’s investigation.

Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked whether he would be independent from the president who chose him for the lifetime position.  “The first thing that makes a good judge is independence not being swayed by political or public pressure,” Kavanaugh responded.  But when asked if a president can be required to respond to a subpoena, Kavanaugh said “I can’t give you an answer on that hypothetical question.”

Asked by Democratic Senator Cory Booker whether he was picked because of an expectation of loyalty to Trump, Kavanaugh responded by saying “my only loyalty is to the Constitution.  I am an independent judge.”

Senator Amy Klobucher (D-MN) asked whether a president could be criminally investigated or indicted.  Kavanaugh said he had never taken a position on those issues, though he did write in a 1998 article that impeachment may be the only way to hold a president accountable while in office.

Republicans hope to confirm Kavanaugh in time for the first day of the new Supreme Court term on October 1.