Kavanaugh Eminently Qualified to be Supreme Court Justice
Earlier this summer, President Trump nominated U.S. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who recently retired from the court after 30 years. President Trump made an excellent decision when he picked Judge Kavanaugh as the nominee. After watching his Judiciary Committee hearing, studying his judicial philosophy and meeting with him in person, it’s clear that he is eminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.
Judge Kavanaugh served on the D.C. Circuit Court—widely referred to as the “second highest court in the land”—for the past 12 years. During his time there, he issued more than 300 opinions and heard more than 2,000 cases. In fact, the Supreme Court endorsed his opinions more than a dozen times. A graduate of Yale Law School, Kavanaugh clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose seat on the bench he will take if confirmed. Before his time on the D.C. Circuit Court, he worked as White House Staff Secretary and Associate White House Counsel for President George W. Bush and as a partner at a law firm.
While on the D.C. Circuit Court, Judge Kavanaugh made it clear that he understands a judge’s responsibility is to interpret the Constitution and apply the law as written and not based on a judge’s personal views or political ideologies. I believe it is very important he or she recognize their job is not to make laws, it is to interpret them. Throughout his career, Judge Kavanaugh has shown that he respects the separation of powers and will not overstep his authority as a member of the Supreme Court. His opinions have shown that he is and will continue to be an independent and impartial judge.
In a speech to a group of law school students in 2016, Judge Kavanaugh expanded upon Chief Justice John Robert’s premise that judges should be umpires, calling balls and strikes. He said, “At its core, in our separation of powers system, to be an umpire as a judge means to follow the law and not to make or re-make the law—and to be impartial in how we go about doing that. That has to be our goal.” I couldn’t agree more. The legislative branch is responsible for making law and the job of the judiciary is to interpret it in a fair and impartial manner.
I recently sat down with Judge Kavanaugh in my office where I had the opportunity to gain additional insight into his judicial philosophy. We spoke at length about his time as a D.C. Circuit Judge, as well as about issues important to South Dakotans, including the role of limited government, states’ rights, privacy and cybersecurity. I appreciated hearing his thoughts on the delicate balance between liberty and order and the thoughtful analysis that he exhibits in his opinions.
In my meeting with him, it became abundantly clear that Judge Kavanaugh holds a deep respect for the federal bench and the United States Constitution. Based on his extensive record and my own interactions with him, I believe Judge Kavanaugh has the aptitude and qualifications for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. I look forward to supporting his nomination when it comes to the floor in the coming weeks.