Wicker Defends Judge Kavanaugh’s Qualifications Against Democratic Obstruction

Disruptions at Senate Hearing Distract From Judge’s Exceptional Credentials

September 10, 2018

Over the past week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.  The hearing allowed the American public to hear from Judge Kavanaugh directly.  Like past Supreme Court nominees, he spent hours answering questions from lawmakers, and the Judiciary Committee will soon decide whether or not to report his nomination to the full Senate for a final vote.  

It was offensive and deeply disappointing that this opportunity for Americans to get to know Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly interrupted, both by Democratic lawmakers calling for the committee to adjourn and protesters shouting as Capitol Police escorted them from the room.  According to news reports, there were 44 interruptions from Democrats in just the first hour.  

Nominee’s Records Reveal Mainstream Jurist

Despite many Democrats announcing their opposition immediately after Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, some continue to insist that they lack ample access to documents from his career.  Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record is well-documented in the more than 300 opinions he wrote during his 12 years as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Approximately half a million pages of documents have been reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Moreover, the substance of Judge Kavanaugh’s written opinions is just as sound as their scope, revealing a jurist decidedly in the judicial mainstream.  Judge Kavanaugh has been in the majority in all but a fraction of the cases he has decided, and the Supreme Court has adopted his position more than a dozen times – a testament to his respected legal judgment.

Democrats would do well to heed the advice of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in 2009, who warned against “fishing expeditions” for then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.  The chief difference between 2009 and 2018 is the president making the nomination.  Americans have entrusted President Trump with this responsibility, and he has followed through with two outstanding nominees, Justice Neil Gorsuch and Judge Kavanaugh.

In the face of the hearing’s many disruptions, Judge Kavanaugh deftly demonstrated his legal knowledge and his faithfulness to the independence of the judiciary, as our Constitution sets forth in its separation of government powers.  His preparation is not surprising, given his service on the same federal bench as three of the Supreme Court’s current justices.  

Nominee Earns Highest Rating From American Bar Association

President Trump is not the only person who has given Judge Kavanaugh a strong endorsement.  The judge has earned praise from his professors, peers, and law clerks, as well as the highest rating from the American Bar Association.  This rating is given only to those who “meet the very highest standards of integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.”  Even Democrats opposing his nomination consider it to be “the gold standard” for judicial nominees. 

It is disheartening to see delay tactics mar what is traditionally a bipartisan and respectful process.  For example, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received a vote of 96 to 3 in the Senate when she was nominated by President Clinton in 1993.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom Judge Kavanaugh would replace, was confirmed by a vote of 97 to 0 after he was selected by President Reagan.  Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing suggests a much more divided confirmation process, but the constitutional duty of the Senate to provide “advice and consent” has not changed.  Political theater and grandstanding should not distract from this solemn responsibility.