President Donald Trump has chosen a superb nominee to serve on the Supreme Court. Through the most transparent and democratic process in recent memory, he has selected a brilliant judge with an outstanding reputation. Now it is the Senate’s turn to give Judge Brett Kavanaugh fair and thorough consideration.
Judge Kavanaugh possesses the qualities and qualifications that the American people deserve in a Supreme Court justice. He has outstanding academic credentials, with undergraduate and law degrees from Yale, and over a decade of experience on the nation’s most consequential federal appellate court, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He possesses an exceptional legal mind and an even-handed temperament. And his record reflects a clear understanding of a judge’s role in our republic: Not to make policy or impose personal preferences, but to begin with the facts of each case and interpret our laws as they’re written.
We’re already hearing from far-left special interests — and even some of my own Democratic colleagues — who seem to lack that understanding. They talk as though evaluating judges means ordering off a menu of predetermined policy outcomes.They want Judge Kavanaugh to support some precedents of the Supreme Court — but not others. And they want members of the Judiciary Committee to grill him to see if he will commit, under oath, to rule the way they want on certain issues — before he even takes his seat on the court.
To even suggest such an inappropriate approach betrays deep confusion about our constitutional order. It contradicts the wisdom of past nominees, like the explanation by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 that offering any “forecasts” or “hints” as to how a judicial nominee might rule would “show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case (but also) disdain for the entire judicial process.” And it confirms that the far left really does envision America’s unelected judges as a kind of super-legislature that imposes public policy from the bench.
This is antithetical to the design of our democracy. The rule of law requires a sharp distinction between judicial and political offices. We need unbiased and open-minded judges who treat all parties fairly, whose decisions turn on the facts of each case and the texts of the laws that it is their job to interpret.
That’s the kind of judge the American people deserve. It’s the kind of judge they expected to receive after then-candidate Donald Trump put forward the transparent process he’d use to select Supreme Court nominees. And it’s precisely who Judge Kavanaugh’s record demonstrates that he is.
Akhil Amar, a legal scholar and a former professor of Judge Kavanaugh, wrote in The New York Times this week that while he supported Hillary Clinton, “it is hard to name anyone with judicial credentials as strong as those of Judge Kavanaugh,” who “commands wide and deep respect among scholars, lawyers and jurists.” In an open letter, 34 of Judge Kavanaugh’s past clerks from across the political spectrum praised not only their mentor’s legal mastery and his thoughtful, painstaking approach to deciding cases but also his “character” and “generosity of spirit.”
It would be too optimistic to suggest Judge Kavanaugh’s experience, reputation, education and virtues will earn him a fair hearing from the far left. Extreme voices have tried the same partisan playbook against Republican presidents’ Supreme Court nominees for more than 40 years. In 1975, they insisted that John Paul Stevens lacked impartiality and opposed women’s rights. In 1987, they called then-Judge Anthony Kennedy “sexist” and “a disaster for women.” In 1990, they said that a Justice David Souter might “undo the advances made by women, minorities, dissenters, and other disadvantaged groups.”
The sky never falls. But the hyperbole and the hysteria do not end.
Already, a few loud voices are trying to persuade Americans that a Justice Brett Kavanaugh would destroy equal rights, demolish American healthcare, or ruin our country in some other fictional way.
But fact-checkers are already exposing the egregious misrepresentations of Judge Kavanaugh’s record. And the far left failed the laugh test from the very beginning by spinning apocalyptic predictions about this nomination before it even existed. The ink was hardly dry on Justice Kennedy’s retirement letter before one Democratic senator on the Judiciary Committee took to the airwaves to declare that the president’s nominee — whomever it might turn out to be — would bring about “a destruction of the Constitution of the United States, as far as I can tell.”
Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications are so obvious, and his reputation so excellent, that these unhinged attacks may be all that remains in the far left’s arsenal. But the American people will not fall for these tricks. Neither should the United States Senate.
I have the utmost confidence that the Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Chuck Grassley, will conduct a fair, thorough, and timely hearing, followed by an up-or-down vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination on the Senate floor. I urge every one of my colleagues to treat this process with the seriousness it deserves and give this talented nominee a fair hearing. One more round of 40-year-old scare tactics will not stop us from doing the right thing.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the senior senator from Kentucky.