WASHINGTON — It happened in the middle of a contentious meeting taking place in a country whose political divide seems to grow deeper by the day.

As the room broke for lunch during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a man approached the judge from behind and was able to get his attention. Kavanaugh turned to look at the man as he stuck out his right hand. He later identified himself on social media as Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, one of the 17 people killed in the Parkland school shooting in February. He appeared to say, “My daughter was murdered at Parkland.”

Kavanaugh gave the man a look but declined to shake his hand. It is not clear whether he heard Guttenberg’s introduction, though the two were standing within a few feet of each other. Another man, who a White House spokesman later said was a security guard, had come to Guttenberg’s side by that point.

The reactions of those who chose to weigh on in social media seemed to serve as a window into their politics. Some liberals saw Kavanaugh’s decision not to shake the man’s hand as a contemptuous act, a snub to the family of a victim of a heinous crime, and perhaps, by default, the causes of liberal America.

For some conservatives, it was sign of liberal overreaction and hypocrisy.

After the lunch break, Guttenberg was questioned by the Capitol Police for about 15 minutes, he said, before they let him return to the hearing.


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