In an era of hyper-partisan politics and misinformation, it is imperative that the United States has a foundation of principles that guide its decisions as a country and, more importantly, as a culture. All of these ideas are right in the Constitution.
While the methods by which we strive for these principles depend upon factors of contextual politics and election results, there is always an authoritative body to safeguard and preserve our American ideals. This of course, is the judicial branch of government, more selectively, the Supreme Court.
The nine justices that head the Supreme Court have always been models of impartiality and objectiveness. Model Code of Judicial Conduct: Canon 5 prohibits judges from political activity of any sort and limits the sorts of speech they can use as it could affect their future rulings on cases brought before the court. For instance, judges are forbidden from making speeches on behalf of a political organization and from attending political events altogether.
Justices of the Supreme Court serve for life, as stated in Article 3 of the Constitution, but when one leaves office, either through death, resignation or impeachment, it is up to the president to appoint a replacement. In early 2017, President Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch,to fill the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia’s death was confirmed by a majority vote in the Senate. Fast forward to the current day, Trump has now nominated Brett Kavanaugh in response to the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Instead of focusing upon the record and qualifications of Kavanaugh at the first hearing Tuesday, there was a showboating of virtue signaling with breaks of order. Senators and private citizens alike, both inside and outside the committee room attempted to obstruct the nomination process.
According to CNN and multiple other news sources, Capitol Police arrested 70 people during the Kavanaugh hearing. 61 people were charged with disorderly conduct and an additional nine were charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding”.
One of the most shocking incidents, however, was not a call for adjournment by Sen. Richard Blumenthal or calls for a delayed hearing by Sen. Cory Booker. No, that recognition goes to Sen. Kamala Harris who went as far in her opening statement as to call into question the character of Kavanaugh is a somewhat harsh light implying that he was a “politician in robes,” not able to judge people equally, and in the pockets of his political party.
Sen. Ted Cruz thought it was necessary to apologize to Kavanaugh for the inappropriate behavior displayed in front of his two daughters.
“This is shaping up to be the hypocrisy hearing, which is a hard thing to do in the Senate,” Lindsey Graham said.
After all senators on the committee gave their opening statements, Sen. Chuck Grassley called a short recess to set up for introductory testimonies, but not before he gave some stern words to himself and his fellow colleagues.
“I’m not gonna let happen tomorrow what I shouldn’t have let happened today because I’ve been instructing people that run committees, either your run the committee or it runs you,” Grassley said. “And you guys have been very successful today in running the committee. I don’t want it to happen tomorrow.”
Tuesday Kavanaugh sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee giving his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee hoping to convince senators as to why he should be a justice on the Supreme Court. Beforehand, however, there were testimonies from Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Rob Portman and Lisa S. Blatt introducing Kavanaugh to the committee. Kavanaugh then took an oath promising to give a truthful statement.
Secretary Rice said she was thankful to have Kavanaugh as a friend in her life, describing Kavanaugh as wise, a good human being, hardworking, humorous, truthful, an old soul and made to help America in these hard times.
Sen. Portman added onto Secretary Rice’s testimony saying he has “good judgment.” Additionally, Portman pointed out to the committee Kavanaugh’s extensive legal record with more than 300 legal opinions and that the supreme court has adopted Kavanaugh’s reasoning 13 times in cases. Portman finished stating that there is ‘no one more qualified.”
The most surprising statement came from Lisa S. Blatt, an appellate lawyer in Washington D.C. Self described as a liberal, Democrat and an “unapologetic defender of a woman’s right to choose.” Similar to Kavanaugh, Blatt has also clerked for a Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She highlights her leftist politics would not make her a stereotypical supporter for a Kavanaugh confirmation.
“Judge Kavanaugh is the best choice that liberals could reasonably hope for in these circumstances. I am sure that some members of the Senate knew that they would disagree with Justice Ginsburg’s legal views when she was a nominee, but Justice Ginsburg was confirmed 96-3.”
Blatt goes on to say that Kavanaugh has commitment to promoting women in the legal profession by highlighting that half of all of his clerks have been female, which Blatt says is by no means a common practice.
“Judge Kavanaugh is the best choice that liberals could reasonably hope for in these circumstances. I am sure that some members of the Senate knew that they would disagree with Justice Ginsburg’s legal views when she was a nominee, but Justice Ginsburg was confirmed 96-3,” Blatt said.
Kavanaugh’s opening words started off with thanks to the committee members, his introductory witnesses, the 65 senators he met with during the nomination process, and president Trump and his wife for their courtesy to his family during the night he was nominated. Kavanaugh then moved on to talking about his immense respect for Anthony Kennedy’s commitment to an independent judiciary, concluding by summing up Kennedy’s career with a single word: “liberty.”
Kavanaugh spoke about his credentials as an experienced and long-serving D.C. Circuit Court judge. For 12 years Kavanaugh has authored over 300 legal opinions and presided over 2,000 cases, stating he stands behind his work. He then explains his judicial philosophy, stating, “A judge must be independent, and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. A judge must interpret the constitution as written. Informed by history, and tradition, and precedent.”
Kavanaugh finished his speech by sharing his reverence to the Constitution along with the values he would use as a justice of the Supreme court. Open-mindedness in every case, equal treatment of the rich and poor, and always uphold the constitution and the rule of law.
Before Chairman Grassley adjourned the committee for the day he made it known to all those present that the first round of questioning for Brett Kavanaugh would begin at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 5 with each senator on the committee being given 30 minutes for their questions.
Based on Monday’s antics and opening statements by senators on the judiciary committee, it should not come as a shock that so much immature and ridiculous action would be demonstrated throughout the whole week of hearings.
Yet a candidate such as Kavanaugh does not deserve an absurd spectacle of political firestorms. Politically speaking, Kavanaugh arguably is the poster child for moderate republicanism. While he won’t tell you out loud he’s a Republican, his record will.
On gun control policy or the lack thereof, Kavanaugh solid as a bullet. In District of Columbia v. Heller, Kavanaugh wrote the dissenting opinion as the circuit court judge: “In my judgment, both D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic rifles and its gun registration requirement are unconstitutional under Heller,” Kavanaugh said.
That case, of course, was later brought before to the Supreme Court were on a 5-4 decision ruled the gun ban was unconstitutional. Critics such as Sen. Rand Paul and other civil libertarians are worried over Kavanaugh’s rulings related to privacy and the Fourth Amendment. One case, in particular, Klayman v. Obama,challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) metadata program is a specific point of interest. The NSA’s metadata program collected phone records of citizens undisclosed and is most infamous for its leaked activity by former employee Edward Snowden. Kavanaugh during the trial denied the plaintiff’s, Klayman, emergency petition and ending voting in support of the Obama administration. His reasoning was that he found the program to be “entirely consistent.”
When it comes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Kavanaugh’s ruling supported the individual mandate requiring citizens to purchase health insurance or face a penalty fee.
The elephant in room for Kavanaugh most notably is abortion. On the topic of Roe v.Wade, Kavanaugh told Sen. Susan Collins during his courtesy meeting with her, as he did with 64 other senators, that he considers the case to be “settled law.” That being said, it is fair to point out that any ruling of any case under the Supreme Court is overturned with a majority vote by the Supreme Court if a new case challenges that guidance. Such is the case with the overturning Plessy v Ferguson by the ruling of Brown v Board of Education.
Clearly judge Kavanaugh is not ideologically possessed by a conservative moral framework. He very much holds the idea of precedence more than politics as shown in his rulings especially in relation to the ACA and the NSA.
If President Trump wanted a conservative hardliner, he would’ve chosen either Raymond Kethledge or Amy Barrett, who have rulings more in line with the conservative framework Trump ran on in the 2016 election. Kavanaugh is the nominee mainly because of his extensive time and experience on the D.C. Court of Appeals and the legal profession in general.
He’s spent more than a decade as a judge over the D.C. Court of Appeals, often seen as the second most powerful court in the nation. As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court currently has three justices (Ginsburg, Roberts and Thomas) who were judges for the same district as Kavanaugh currently serves for. Ironically, the current chief justice of the D.C. Court of Appeals is Merrick Garland, who was former President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, although was never given a hearing.
Another possible reason for the Kavanaugh nomination is that he shares a sharp similarity with current justice Neil Gorsuch. Like Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh is both an originalist and textualist.
Both originalism and textualism were beliefs championed by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch replaced. Originalism and textualism are very similar and to the untrained eye they would appear identical, but they are more rather fraternal than congruent. Originalism is the idea that the original ideas of the constitution should confine the judicial system.
Textualism is rather broader, applying to all laws and instructing judges to interpret laws as they are written, not as they should be. Kavanaugh’s commitment to the letter of the law and the Constitution will serve to help him win Republican support and with a respectfully seasoned and professional career. He might even be able to win over a few Democrats during his confirmation vote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham went as far to say Kavanaugh will become justice with a vote of 55-45 in an interview on Fox News Sunday.
When it comes to Kavanaugh as a justice on the Supreme Court, Americans should keep in my his record. The American Bar Association just recently sent out a letter to the public declaring,“a substantial majority of our Committee is of the opinion that the nominee is qualified” for the appointment. A minority found him to be “Well Qualified.”
He is not the epic right winger that will end the reproductive rights of women as those who protested at the Capitol building believe. The confirmation of a federal judge should focus on the record of the candidate. But that’s not what this week’s hearing were about.
As Sen.Cruz said during the hearing on Tuesday, “This hearing is not about the qualifications of the nominee. Judge Kavanaugh by any objective measure unquestionably qualified for the Supreme Court.”
Unfortunately, Cruz was correct. The hearings turned into a political frenzy of committee members speaking out of turn and obstructing the chairman and all points of order due for that matter.
He was a legal clerk for Anthony Kennedy, a staff secretary for George W. Bush, he helped investigate President Clinton during his impeachment trials, and as said repeatedly has worked on the D.C. Court of appeals for over a decade.
This article has not referred to this document crisis brought up by Democrat committee members as it has nothing legitimate or topical to do with Kavanaugh being qualified as a Supreme Court justice. Those documents have to due with Kavanaugh’s service employed under the Bush administration as a staff secretary, not as a judge.
He’s not a set in stone conservative or Republican when it comes to judging because as Kavanaugh will tell he’s neither pro-plaintiff nor pro-defense but rather pro-law.
What do you think of his nomination?