WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today described Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a judge’s judge who understands the role of a judge as a servant to the law, not a maker of it. Crapo delivered his remarks during today’s opening session of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing to serve as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh will fill the seat left vacant following Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement in July.
“Judge Kavanaugh has been widely recognized for his judicial temperament and detailed legal writing in defense of the Constitution,” said Crapo. “His opinions are widely cited by his fellow appellate judges and even the Supreme Court. He is a judge’s judge.”
Crapo cited the robust and varied backing of Kavanaugh’s former law clerks and law students, as well as his colleagues on the bench appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents, adding, “He is a man of honor, integrity and well-respected in the legal community. There is no dispute; he is qualified to serve on our nation’s highest court.”
The text of Senator Crapo’s full statement appears below, along with video of the statement from today’s hearing. The confirmation hearing will continue through Friday, with Crapo having the opportunity to question Judge Kavanaugh on Wednesday and Thursday.
Click the image to view Sen. Crapo’s opening remarks.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Judge Kavanaugh, welcome. Thank you for your service to this country and for the willingness you have expressed to take this additional assignment. Thank you to your family; we welcome them as well.
The process on which we are about to embark is one of, if maybe not the most, important duties entrusted to the Senate: advice and consent of judicial nominations. Ultimately, a fair and proper judge, Supreme Court or otherwise, must follow the law, not make laws from the bench.
Upon receiving his nomination to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh stated, “My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”
Isn’t that the ideal illustration of a judge steadfastly committed to the law?
No one seriously questions Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications to serve as an Associate Justice on our nation’s highest court. He is vastly experienced and widely respected for his intellect, honesty and legal acumen.
With over 300 authored opinions and 12 years of service on the bench, he is a judge with a clear record demonstrating that he applies the law as written and enforces the Constitution. He values precedent and has written, along with Justice Gorsuch and others, the Law of Judicial Precedent, a scholarly piece on the importance of stare decisis.
Sadly, much of the discourse surrounding Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination deals not with the content of his legal opinions, his judicial philosophy or temperament, but rather, as today’s discussion has shown, the spurious notion that our distinguished Chairman has not been rigorously fair or transparent in navigating the requisite document production efforts. Those claims are wholly without foundation.
There have been 57 days since the announcement of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination on July 9 and today’s confirmation hearing. This is a longer period of time than senators had for Justices Sotomayor, Kagan and Gorsuch. Judge Kavanaugh also submitted over 17,000 pages with his bipartisan Judiciary Committee questionnaire, the most extensive questionnaire ever returned by a nominee to the Supreme Court.
The Committee also received more than 440,000 pages of documents related to his service in the Executive Branch. This, too, is more than any Supreme Court nominee to date. As has been said earlier, in fact, it’s more than the last five nominees combined.
I applaud Chairman Grassley and his dedicated staff for their tireless work in reviewing these documents and making the vast majority publicly available as quickly as possible. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, the American people appreciate your efforts, your transparency and your commitment to a fair process.
It was said here today the number of documents provided by now-Justice Kagan—who was also a nominee who had served in the White House and had many documents relating to her service—that 99 percent of the documents requested for her were provided. One problem with that fact is that when Justice Kagan was before us, she had been the Solicitor General and although there were probably more pages relevant to her service there, we don’t remember the number because the Republicans agreed with the Democrats that we wouldn’t request those documents because the White House claimed they were sensitive. The Democrats have not made that agreement with the Republicans this time. It’s incredibly important to note that the argument taking place today about the balance of documents is simply a trumped up argument.
These facts aside, many of my colleagues continue to criticize this process. Their motives are clear: use any means available to attempt to delay the confirmation process – of a well-qualified jurist fit for the job – indefinitely. I strongly agree with many of the comments made by my colleagues here today. Senator Cruz pointed out what was really at stake. Senator Sasse pointed out why it is that Congress needs to be the part of our government that makes federal law, not the judiciary. Senator Kennedy has followed up on that thought as well, as many of my colleagues have done today.
One point Senator Cruz made deserves repeating. Much of what we are hearing today, and will hear for the remainder of this process, is ultimately an effort to re-litigate the last presidential election. In fact, we have just heard Judge Kavanaugh be attacked and stated as unqualified because he is a President Trump nominee. Other Trump nominees have been attacked here today. The attacks are on President Trump, not on the nominees, because of an unwillingness to accept the outcome of the last presidential election.
Judge Kavanaugh, as the nominee, has been widely recognized for his judicial temperament and detailed legal writing in defense of the Constitution. His opinions are widely cited by his fellow appellate judges and even the Supreme Court. Although his integrity was just challenged, stating that no matter what he says to this committee, that he will vote the other way once put into the Supreme Court. The fact remains the evidence disproves that. He serves on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a court on which more of the judges serving have been appointed more by Democratic than Republican presidents. Yet, he has voted 97 percent of the time with his colleagues in the majority on that court, showing that he will follow the law, and that he does so with broad, nonpartisan judges. That is the judge we have before us. He is a judge’s judge.
Many critics argue a Justice Kavanaugh would play an instrumental role in reversing a number of Supreme Court precedents. However, I wonder how one can draw that conclusion given his record of exhaustive and weighty consideration of important legal questions. I recognize that it is politics driving these attacks. And so do the American people. They know what is at stake here.
In his legal opinions, Judge Kavanaugh has consistently demonstrated a willingness to reign in both Congress and the executive when they overstep their respective constitutional bounds.
Judge Kavanaugh understands and is focused on the principle that a judge is a servant of the law, not the maker of it.
We should take him at his own words: “The judge’s job is to interpret the law, not to make the law or make policy. So read the words of the statute as written. Read the text of the Constitution as written, mindful of history and tradition. Don’t make up new constitutional rights that are not in the text of the Constitution. Don’t shy away from enforcing constitutional rights that are in the text of the Constitution.” Those are Judge Kavanaugh’s words. That is the man who sits before us, nominated to be a justice in the highest court of our land.
Judge Kavanaugh has the backing of his former law clerks and law students, his colleagues on the bench appointed by both Republican and Democrat presidents, and many members of his local community in which he remains so closely involved. He is a man of honor, integrity and well-respected in the legal community. There is no dispute; he is qualified to serve on our nation’s highest court.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing from the nominee himself. The next few days will prove insightful as we discuss with Judge Kavanaugh, for the public to hear, in his own words, the proper role of a judge in our constitutional system.
I look forward to this hearing. And again, Judge Kavanaugh, thank you for your willingness to be here.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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