Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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VIDEO: Judge Kavanaugh, a Nationally Respected Judge

Jul 10, 2018

Prepared Senate Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee

Judge Kavanaugh, One of the Nation’s Most Widely Respected Judges

July 10, 2018

VIDEO

Mr. President, last evening I joined many of my colleagues at the White House as the President introduced Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most widely respected judges in the country. He is an outstanding choice to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh is a former law clerk of the Justice he has been nominated to replace: Justice Kennedy.

Judge Kavanaugh earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University. He then clerked for judges on the Third and Ninth Circuits before joining the chambers of Justice Kennedy.

He served in the Office of the Solicitor General and also the Office of the Independent Counsel. After several years in private practice, Judge Kavanaugh returned to public service, working in the White House Counsel’s Office and as Staff Secretary for President George W. Bush. In 2006, he was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, where he has served since. He is also a well-regarded law professor at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown.

Judge Kavanaugh is a leader not only in the law, but in his community. He volunteers at Catholic Charities and he coaches his daughters’ youth basketball teams. The Committee has received a letter from former law clerks of Judge Kavanaugh, people who represent views across the political and ideological spectrum. Many judges describe their former law clerks as adopted family members. Law clerks know their judges best.

Judge Kavanaugh’s former law clerks write that he is a person with immense “strength of character, generosity of spirit, intellectual capacity, and unwavering care for his family, friends, colleagues, and us, his law clerks.” They continue:

He is unfailingly warm and gracious with his colleagues no matter how strongly they disagree about a case, and he is well-liked and respected by judges and lawyers across the ideological spectrum as a result. . . . He always makes time for us, his law clerks. He makes it to every wedding, answers every career question, and gives unflinchingly honest advice. That advice often boils down to the same habits we saw him practice in chambers every day: Shoot straight, be careful and brave, work as hard as you possibly can, and then work a little harder.

Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record is extraordinary. The Supreme Court has adopted his view of the law in a dozen cases. Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions demonstrate profound respect for the Constitution’s separation of powers. He understands that it’s Congress’s job to pass laws and the Judiciary’s role to faithfully apply them.

That’s why his opinions emphasize that judges must focus on the text and apply laws as written by the people’s representatives in Congress—not by unelected and largely unaccountable federal judges. Courts may not rewrite laws to suit their policy preferences.

Judge Kavanaugh has a record of judicial independence. He has shown a willingness to rein in executive branch agencies when they abuse or exceed their authority.

As he has explained in numerous opinions, executive branch agencies may not assume more power than Congress has specifically granted them. And he has emphasized that judges may not surrender their duty to interpret laws to executive branch agencies.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination in the coming weeks. As I noted in my speech yesterday, liberal outside groups and Democratic leaders decided weeks ago to block whoever the President nominates. They’re already pushing feeble arguments to cause needless delays.

For example, some Democrats say we shouldn’t confirm a nominee nominated during a midterm election year. But the Senate has never operated like this. Sitting Justices Breyer and Kagan—and numerous of their predecessors—were nominated and confirmed in midterm election years.

The American people see this argument for the obstruction it is. After all, Democratic leaders announced that they will oppose anyone nominated by President Trump.

In fact, some Democratic senators announced their opposition to Judge Kavanaugh mere minutes after the President nominated him. It’s clear that a number of my Democratic colleagues have chosen the path of obstruction and resistance, not thoughtful advice and consent.

Here we have a highly qualified nominee who has authored numerous influential judicial opinions. Leading liberal law professor Akhil Reed Amar endorsed Judge Kavanaugh in the pages of the New York Times. But some of my colleagues can’t even bring themselves to at least consider Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Also, as I mentioned yesterday, liberal outside groups and their allies are trying to convince senators to ask Judge Kavanaugh his views on specific cases and Supreme Court precedent. I want to emphasize that these questions are inappropriate.

Justice Ginsburg announced during her confirmation hearing that a nominee should offer “no hints, no forecasts, no previews.” Justice Kagan declined to state her views on Roe v. Wade, saying “the application of Roe to future cases, and even its continued validity, are issues likely to come before the Court in the future.” I expect that Judge Kavanaugh will likewise decline to comment on his views of particular cases decided by the Supreme Court.

I want to congratulate Judge Kavanaugh on this nomination. I had the opportunity to meet with Judge Kavanaugh earlier.

I know he looks forward to answering questions from my colleagues in the coming weeks. And I look forward to hearing from him again when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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