Yale professors defend Kavanaugh as Supreme Court pick

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NEW HAVEN -

As a Yale graduate, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's second nominee to the Supreme Court, has ties to western Connecticut -- and law professors there defended him against criticism Tuesday.

They downplayed concerns about him and argued he is one of the most qualified judges in the country. 

Rather than the right-wing extremist progressives fear, they described him as a smart, fair and open-minded judge.

"Once you're on the court, if things look different to you -- new arguments, new facts -- then you have to be free to change your mind," said Akhil Amar, a Yale legal scholar. "That's what judicial independence is all about."

Democrats like Sen. Chris Murphy are far from convinced.

In a tweet, the senator described Kavanaugh as "an anti-consumer zealot, an opponent of pre-existing condition protections, a critic of abortion rights and a Second Amendment radical."

"The likelihood that they will take away your health care if you have any of these pre-existing conditions is radically increased if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed," Murphy said.

Both he and fellow Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said they will vote "no" on Kavanaugh's confirmation.

"He has passed the Trump litmus test, which means he would automatically overturn Roe v. Wade and cut back on key health care rights," said Blumenthal, referencing the Supreme Court precedent that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion.

Some other Democrats have said they would consider voting "yes." Across party lines, six senators are still on the fence in the narrowly divided Senate.

Kavanaugh got his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale.

During his introduction as a nominee Monday evening, he said he would make a fair Supreme Court justice.

"I will keep an open mind in every case, and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States," he said.

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