Updated at 11:18 a.m. ET
After a long day of speeches and vocal protests from the audience Tuesday, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are getting down to business Wednesday, with a marathon round of questions for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Protesters once again interrupted Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the committee's chairman, as the session began, before they were quickly hustled from the hearing room by U.S. Capitol Police.
Barring a surprise, Senate Republicans have the votes to confirm Kavanaugh in time for him to take his place on the high court when it begins its fall term next month.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., grilled Kavanaugh on the hot-button issues of abortion and gun control.
Kavanaugh said he understands the importance that people attach to the Supreme Court's 1973 abortion decision, Roe v. Wade, which was reaffirmed two decades later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
"I don't live in a bubble. I live in the real world," Kavanaugh said. "As a judge, it's an important precedent of the Supreme Court."
But he stopped short of saying whether he thinks Roe or Casey was correctly decided.
Kavanaugh defended his dissenting opinion in a case involving a ban on semi-automatic rifles. He argued the ban is unconstitutional, citing a decision by the late Justice Antonin Scalia that only "unusual" weapons can be outlawed.
"Semi-automatic rifles are widely possessed in the United States. There are millions and millions and millions," Kavanaugh said. "As a judge, my job was to follow the Second Amendment decision of the Supreme Court, whether I agreed with it or disagreed with it."
Kavanaugh stressed that as a native of the Washington, D.C., area, he is well-aware of the danger posed by gun violence.
"Of course, the violence in schools is something that we all detest and want to do something about," Kavanaugh said.
Grassley highlighted Kavanaugh's experience as an appeals court judge, then asked whether he would have any trouble ruling against the president who appointed him.
"No one is above the law in our constitutional system," Kavanaugh replied. "Under our system of government, the executive branch is subject to the law."
Kavanaugh pointed approvingly to several examples of Supreme Court justices who ruled against the presidents who appointed them. He also highlighted his own decision on the appeals court, rejecting a military tribunal for terrorism suspect Salim Hamdan, even though it was a "signature prosecution" of the George W. Bush administration in which he served before becoming a judge.
"You'll never have a nominee who's ruled for a more unpopular defendant," Kavanaugh said. "You don't make decisions based on who people are or their policy preferences. You base decisions on the law."
Both supporters and opponents believe that, if confirmed, Kavanaugh will tilt the high court far to the right, cementing a 5-4 conservative majority for years to come.
"This nominee has devoted his entire career to a conservative Republican agenda," said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., during Tuesday's session. She pointed to Kavanaugh's work investigating then-President Bill Clinton in the 1990s with independent counsel Kenneth Starr, litigating the contested presidential election of 2000 and work in the Bush White House.
"In all of these efforts, he has shown that he seeks to win at all costs, even if that means pushing the envelope," Harris said.
Kavanaugh is also facing questions about his thoughts on presidential power and immunity. Although he worked on the Starr report, he later wrote that a sitting president should not have to face the distraction of civil or criminal investigations.
"What changed was Sept. 11," Kavanaugh said Wednesday. He stressed that his essay was meant as a recommendation for lawmakers to grant presidential immunity and not a preview of how he might rule as a judge.
"They were ideas for Congress to consider," Kavanaugh said. "They were not my constitutional views."
Republicans brushed aside complaints that Kavanaugh is too partisan.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., argued that Hillary Clinton would have chosen high court nominees with progressive views on gun control and abortion had she been elected in 2016.
"You had a chance and you lost," Graham said to Democrats on Tuesday. "If you want to pick judges from your way of thinking, then you better win an election."