Judiciary Chair’s Final Plea for Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Nomination
Before the US Senate confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh by the most narrow margin since 1881, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) rose in defense of the nominee. This is what he shared with the Senate:
I rise one final time in support of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to serve as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Democratic leaders did everything in their power to make Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation about anything except his judicial record. They promised to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation from day one and used every play in the book to try to do just that. Even though the Senate had access to more of Judge Kavanaugh’s record than we’ve had for any other Supreme Court nominee, Democratic leaders tried to bury the Judiciary Committee in mountains of irrelevant paperwork. When routine process arguments failed, they resorted to outright character assassination.
Their smear campaign featured baseless allegations of perjury and claims that, as a teenager, he participated in the gang rapes of women. I’ve been around long enough to see ugly left-wing smear campaigns against Supreme Court nominees, but this was beyond the pale. I’m encouraged that most of my colleagues had the courage to stand against the politics of personal destruction.
Ignored in the media circus that Democratic leaders created was Judge Kavanaugh’s extraordinary record as a judge and citizen. I’ve said from the day the President announced Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination on July 9 that Judge Kavanaugh is quite possibly the most qualified person ever nominated to the Supreme Court. He has spent 25 years of his career at the highest levels of government, including the last twelve years as a judge on the second most important federal court in the country.
Judge Kavanaugh’s record on the D.C. Circuit has been remarkable. On a court containing some of the brightest legal minds, he has set himself apart. The Supreme Court, in at least twelve separate cases, adopted positions advanced in Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions. As liberal law professor Akhil Reed Amar wrote in the New York Times:
“Good appellate judges faithfully follow the Supreme Court; great ones influence and help steer it. Several of Judge Kavanaugh’s most important ideas and arguments… have found their way into Supreme Court opinions.”
Judge Kavanaugh will not only bring his keen intellect and deep knowledge of the law to the Supreme Court. He will bring some other important judicial characteristics as well.
First among these is a proper understanding of the role of a judge in our constitutional system. He knows that a judge must interpret and apply the law as written not how he wishes it were written. It’s Congress’s job to write the laws, not judges’.
He has explained in numerous cases that the fundamental goal of the separation of the powers is the protection of individual liberty. He has interpreted the Constitution according to text, history, and tradition—not his own personal views. This what we need in a Supreme Court justice.
Judge Kavanaugh has also demonstrated judicial independence and courage. In the two years after he was appointed to the D.C. Circuit by President George W. Bush, he ruled against Bush Administration agencies in 23 cases. We can expect that Justice Kavanaugh will be beholden to no one and nothing except the Constitution.
Judge Kavanaugh also has a well-earned reputation for collegiality. He has an excellent relationship with all of his colleagues on the D.C. Circuit and his judicial record demonstrates this. Indeed, Judge Kavanaugh was in the majority in 97% of cases he participated in on the D.C. Circuit. His Democratic-appointed colleagues were as likely to join majority opinion written by Judge Kavanaugh as his Republican-appointed colleagues. I expect he will help bridge the divides at the Supreme Court.
Judge Kavanaugh has also shown a dedication to public service, mentorship and diversity. He spent all but three years of his legal career in public service.
Judge Kavanaugh is a proven mentor to law students and young lawyers. Judge Kavanaugh has taught courses at Harvard Law School and other top law schools for many years. The Senate Judiciary Committee received a letter in support of his confirmation from his former students. They wrote:
“We may have differing views on political issues surrounding the confirmation process, but we all agree on one thing: Judge Kavanaugh is a rigorous thinker, a devoted teacher, and a gracious person.”
Federal judges also play an important role in mentoring the next generation of lawyers by hiring law clerks. Judge Kavanaugh has clearly taken seriously his mentorship role. His former law clerks submitted a letter to this committee strongly supporting his confirmation. They wrote:
“It was a tremendous stroke of luck to work for and be mentored by a person of his strength of character, generosity of spirit, intellectual capacity, and unwavering care for his family, friends, colleagues, and us, his law clerks.”
One of the areas where Judge Kavanaugh has had a particular impact is his commitment to diversity. More than half of his law clerks have been female. When confirmed to the Supreme Court, his class of law clerks will be all-female—the first time in Supreme Court history. Judge Kavanaugh’s female law clerks sent the Committee a letter. They wrote:
“We know all too well that women in the workplace still face challenges, inequality, and even harassment. Among other things, women do not enjoy a representative share of prestigious clerkships or high-profile legal positions. But this Committee, and the American public more broadly, should be aware of the important work Judge Kavanaugh has done to remedy those disparities. In our view, the Judge has been one of the strongest advocates in the federal judiciary for women lawyers.”
The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh is particularly meaningful to me. Thirty-one years ago, left-wing groups and their Senate allies fired the opening shots in the judicial confirmation wars. They engaged in unprecedented character assassination against President Reagan’s nominee, Judge Robert Bork. Since then, they have only escalated this war—slandering several Republican nominees to the Supreme Court and expanding their tactics to lower court nominees.
More than three decades later, left-wing groups and their Democratic allies in this body went back to the same playbook. They tried the very same character assassination tactics against the person nominated to the very same seat to which Judge Bork was nominated. They succeeded thirty-one years ago. But, this time, they failed.
I look forward to voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh this afternoon and to greeting him as Justice Kavanaugh next time I see him.