Senate begins final day of Supreme Court nominee hearings

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Senators began the fourth and final day of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday, but with the nominee finished answering questions the day they seemed unlikely to alter his path to confirmation.

Senate Democrats worked into the night Thursday in a last, ferocious attempt to paint Kavanaugh as a foe of abortion rights and a likely defender of President Donald Trump. But after two marathon days in the witness chair in a Senate hearing room, Kavanaugh appeared on his way to becoming the court's 114th justice.

The 53-year-old appellate judge stuck to a well-rehearsed script throughout his testimony, providing only glimpses of his judicial stances while avoiding any serious mistakes that might jeopardize his confirmation. In what almost seemed like a celebration Thursday, Kavanaugh's two daughters returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room for the final hours of testimony, accompanied by teammates on Catholic school basketball teams their father has coached.

On the schedule Friday are more than two dozen witnesses on both sides of the nomination fight. Democratic witnesses include John Dean, Richard Nixon's White House counsel who cooperated with prosecutors during the Watergate investigation, and Rochelle Garza, the legal guardian for a pregnant immigrant teenager whose quest for an abortion Kavanaugh would have delayed last year.

On the Republican side, former solicitors general Theodore Olson and Paul Clement will testify in support of the nominee, along with former students, law clerks and the mother of a basketball player Kavanaugh coached.

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Texas Adopts Statewide Texting-While-Driving Ban

Effective September 1, 2017, Texas will become the 47th state to pass a statewide ban on texting while driving. Governor Abbott’s signing of House Bill 62 is an effort to unify Texas under a uniform ban and remedy the “patchwork quilt of regulations that dictate driving practices in Texas.”

The bill specifically prohibits drivers from reading, writing, or sending an electronic message on a device unless the vehicle is stopped. That includes texting and emailing. It does not, however, prohibit dialing a number to call someone, talking on the phone using a hands-free device, or using the phone’s GPS system.

Violations would be punishable by a fine ranging from $25 to $99, to be set by each municipality. Although penalties could rise to as much as $200 for repeat offenders.

Studies have found that a driver’s reaction time is half as much when a driver is distracted by sending or reading a text message. According to state officials, in 2015 more than 105,000 traffic accidents in Texas involved distracted driving, leading to at least 476 fatalities.

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