As outlined in the United States Constitution, the President “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint judges of the Supreme Court.” In July, President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by Justice Kennedy’s retirement. This week, Americans saw this process in action as the Senate fulfilled their constitutional responsibility and held confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Since our nation’s founding, nearly 70 Supreme Court Justices have been confirmed by unanimous voice votes. Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy were confirmed unanimously, as deference was given to the President and his nominee. However, as the years have gone on, these bipartisan confirmation votes have, unfortunately, become few and far between. President Obama’s nominee, Justice Elena Kagan, was confirmed by a vote of 63-37 and most recently, President Trump’s nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed by a vote of 54-45.
Since Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination in July, Americans on both sides of the political spectrum have been adamant in support or opposition of the nominee. This fight was on full display during the hearings as protesters consistently interrupted Senators and Judge Kavanaugh. We even saw sitting United States Senators turn to bullying and intimidation tactics in an attempt to stop the hearings. While Judge Kavanaugh remained steadfast throughout his testimony and answers, the hearings, unfortunately, highlighted the devolution of political discourse in our country.
In 2018, confirmations hearings are no longer a chance for the American people to hear more about the nominee’s qualifications, but a chance for Senators to compete for the best sound bite or to ask the most salacious question with national news coverage. Instead of reviewing his record and asking tough but meaningful questions of the person who will likely be our next Supreme Court Justice, we saw grandstanding and fabricated drama by Senators who made their decision before having a single conversation with him.
It is extremely important we discuss Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s exemplary background and qualifications. Given the highest rating from the American Bar Association, Judge Kavanaugh has taught for more than a decade at the nation’s top two law schools. He was hired at Harvard Law by President Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee, Justice Elena Kagan. He has spent 25 years as a public servant. Over the course of his career, he has made a point to hire well-qualified female law clerks, supporting diversity in the legal profession. Perhaps most importantly, he has not based his rulings on politics, policy, or the identities of litigants, but on precedent and the Constitution.
In his statement before the Senate, Judge Kavanaugh explained his judicial ideals, “As Justice Kennedy showed us, a judge must be independent, not swayed by public pressure. Our independent Judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic. In our independent Judiciary, the Supreme Court is the last line of defense for the separation of powers, and the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.”
President Trump has nominated an exceptional man with a reverence for the United States Constitution. Judge Brett Kavanaugh will ensure our conservative American values are upheld for years to come. I am hopeful that my colleagues in the Senate will finally put political theater aside and swiftly confirm this qualified nominee.
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., shares his perspective each week on national issues, including ones that affect Missouri. He represents the state’s 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 635-7232.