In a 1987 radio address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan stated, “Our judges should be faithful to the written Constitution, the bedrock of our liberties.” This guiding principle remains as important today as it has always been. Our judicial system must be guided by our Constitution to protect American freedoms, which remain an inspiration to people around the world.
As a member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, I recently participated in roughly a week-long hearing to consider the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. During the hearing, I had the opportunity to stress the importance of judges following the law, not making laws from the bench. I asked him directly about the most important issue to me in considering his nomination—whether he will be an activist judge, or will he follow the law as it is written? Kavanaugh cited Alexander Hamilton when noting that he will remember that the judiciary exercises not will, but judgement. He said he will follow the law, the Constitution and statutes Congress passes, as written and formed by history, tradition and precedent.
I also asked Judge Kavanaugh about his extensive judicial record and discuss cases he has ruled on that demonstrate a deep record of protecting women’s rights and protecting against racial discrimination. Judge Kavanaugh cited the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as being one of the most important pieces of legislation enacted by Congress, and he stated that there is work yet to be done after centuries of discrimination and oppression. He also explained that race relations and race discrimination in the community where he grew up influenced his concerns with these issues and inspired him to write a paper, as far back as when he was in law school, in which he discussed his concerns with backtracking on eliminating discrimination in jury selection. My discussion with Judge Kavanaugh can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtnsPUyqH0I&feature=youtu.be.
Despite criticisms, his record reveals the truth: he has a strong record of protecting women’s rights and protecting against racial discrimination. With more than 300 authored opinions and 12 years of service on the bench, he is a judge with a clear record demonstrating that he applies the law as written and enforces the Constitution. Ninety-seven percent of his decisions on the D.C. Circuit Court have been with the majority; this on a court with seven of the active judges nominated by Democrat presidents and four by Republican presidents.
Sadly, much of the discourse surrounding Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination does not deal with the content of his legal opinions, his judicial philosophy or temperament. But, rather, obstruction has been based on foundationless claims that the process has not been fair, rigorous and transparent in providing documents. Judge Kavanaugh submitted more than 17,000 pages with his bipartisan Judiciary Committee questionnaire, the most extensive questionnaire ever returned by a nominee to the Supreme Court. The Committee also received more than 440,000 pages of documents related to his service in the Executive Branch. This, too, is more than any Supreme Court nominee to date--more than the last five nominees combined.
Based on direct discussions with Brett Kavanaugh, his legal experience and decisions, his responses to extensive questioning, and the insight of those who have worked with him, I am confident Judge Kavanaugh will demonstrate the rigorous intellect, the fealty to the law, and the judicial temperament that has long defined his career on the bench. There is no dispute; he is qualified to serve on our nation’s highest court. I look forward to his confirmation by the full Senate.