July 23, 2018

Weekly Column: Advancing Judges Who Will Protect The Constitution

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Our nation’s first president, George Washington, wrote in 1789, “The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government.”  The judicial system’s critical role in our constitutional republic is reflected in the process for appointing federal judges, which apportions responsibility between the two political branches of government.  The Senate Judiciary Committee, on which I serve, is tasked with considering judicial nominations, including for the U.S. Supreme Court, appellate courts and district courts.  With lifetime appointments, the individuals serving on the federal bench can have a major impact on the delivery of justice, and it is important we confirm talented and constitutional-minded judges. 

From confirmation of an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to district court judge confirmations, we are seeing the selection of quality Article III judges who are going to serve the American people for years to come.  In 2017, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge David Nye to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Idaho by a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 100-0.  His was the very first district judge approved by the 115th Congress.  His extensive legal experience, including as judge for Idaho’s Sixth Judicial District and in private practice litigation, already is benefiting the people of Idaho and the American people. 

Judge Nye is just one of 42 judges nominated by President Trump and already confirmed by the Senate.  Also under review by Congress is Ryan Nelson, the President’s nominee for an Idaho-based seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  I chaired Ryan’s nomination hearing on July 11 and look forward to his swift confirmation by the Senate.

Last year, the Senate also confirmed Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch.  Throughout his confirmation process, I was impressed with his commitment to our law and upholding the separation of powers defined in our Constitution that he has now brought to the Supreme Court.  As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reflected, “Judges should say what the law is, not what they think it should be. . . . We have a President appointing textualist and originalist judges and a Republican Senate Majority actively confirming them.  The results speak for themselves.” 

I take my advice and consent role very seriously, a role delegated explicitly to the Senate in Article II, Section 2 of our Constitution.  Judges who substitute their personal beliefs for the law undermine a fundamental principle of our government and erode our liberties.  Ultimately, a fair judge, Supreme Court or otherwise, must follow the law, not make laws from the bench. 

As the Administration works to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy and other federal judicial nominees, I will continue to consider whether nominees look foremost to the Constitution for guidance.  Following decades of customs and precedents, the Senate will take up nominations as expeditiously as possible.  Throughout, I will continue to maintain that an emphasis on following the law and upholding our Constitution must be a central characteristic of any person confirmed for the federal branch. 

The significant legal issues surrounding our courts give even greater weight to confirming outstanding, constitutional judges.  Each year, federal courts hear cases that affect individual rights and uphold or erode our constitutionally-protected rights.  To safeguard our rights, judges must adhere to the rule of law and not enable judicial activism to prejudice rulings.     

We are headed in the right direction in advancing a court system that preserves our constitutional rights, ensures a limited government and provides speedy and fair justice.  I look forward to continuing to support nominees who carefully exercise this judicial responsibility within the limits of the law. 

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