13 August 2018

Note From Norm: Kavanaugh Is Ready To Serve

The U.S. Senate August Recess that isn’t is now upon us.

And, it will be a time when the body will focus on work that can and must be done to prepare for the return of Congress in September.

There is no question that September and October may be the busiest, most productive, time for Congress in recent memory.

The American people, already having seen the powerful effect of a GOP Congress and President working together to get things done, are about to see a remarkable series of actions in Congress, supported by the President, that may be unrivaled in modern times.

One of those actions will undoubtedly be the approval of the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53, to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

In nominating Judge Kavanaugh, who has served on the D.C. Circuit Court since 2006, the President has nominated a brilliant and integrate individual who should easily be confirmed by the United States Senate.

During my time as a United States Senator I had the privilege and honor to meet with Judge John Roberts and Samuel Alito when they were nominated to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

Both Roberts and Alito distinguished themselves in careers prior to their nomination as individuals with great integrity, superior intellect and a commitment to interpret the law, not make the law.

In his remarks accepting the nomination to the Supreme Court Kavanaugh remarked,

“My judicial philosophy is straightforward.  A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law.  A judge must interpret statutes as written.  And a just must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

Exactly the kind of judge America needs on the nation’s highest court!

During his 30 years on the United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy grew to become a key swing vote on the nine-member body.

Nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 it was Kennedy’s voice, and vote, that paved the way for recognition of same sex marriage, upheld Obamacare and, in 1992, provided a critical vote in upholding Roe V. Wade.

In notifying President Trump of his decision to leave the court on July 31st, Justice Kennedy has put into motion a process that will unite and divide Americans in the weeks and months ahead.

Most assuredly his vacancy will play a critical point of momentum in this year’s mid-terms.  To whose advantage that will be remains to be seen.

Republicans must now guide the Kavanaugh nomination through the process and ultimately bring his nomination forward for a vote prior to the November mid-term elections.

It has long been my belief that the Senate had a constitutional requirement to advise and consent on judicial appointments.

To me that meant providing a nominee a “Yes” or “No” vote.

Elections have consequences and a President gets to choose his nominees.

My Democratic friends will, of course, and with justification, exclaim, “But, Norm, Mitch McConnell did not allow an up or down vote on Justice Merrick Garland.”

They would be right.  And, I did not agree with that decision.

Nor did I agree with the decision by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in demanding that the Senate consent to the nomination of Justice Neal Gorsuch with a minimum of 60 votes.

Schumer, and many Democrats in the Senate, forget that their erstwhile leader Harry Reid created the precedent erased any precedent for how presidential nominees should be handled.

Schumer was one of the Democrats who were more than eager to exercise the “Nuclear Option” in 2013 when Harry Reid lead Democrats to alter filibuster rules lowering the number of Senators needed to confirm presidential nominees from 60 to a simple majority of 51.

As I wrote in 2017, “While Schumer argues that the action excluded Supreme Court nominations from the change there’s great irony that Schumer opines that what was good for the Democratic goose in 2013 is no longer good for the Democrat gander in 2017.

Republicans pleaded with Democrats not to make the change.  They made it clear that what goes around comes around.

But, Harry Reid wouldn’t be swayed.”

So, what goes around has gone around and here we are today with the retirement of Justice Kennedy resulting in a chorus of jubilation by Conservatives and declarations of disaster by Liberals.

Nominees for the Supreme Court in recent times have found bipartisan support in the Senate.

Justice Anthony Kennedy was approved 97 to 0; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 96 to 3; and Justice Stephen Breyer 87 to 9.

Not so long ago, 2009 and 2010, Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan were confirmed 68-31 and 63-37 respectively.

Were that the world we live in today.

If the President had nominated someone who was not qualified I have no doubt that members of the Republican Party would have made it clear to him that the candidate fails the test to sit on the nation’s highest court.

In 2005 President George W. Bush nominated Harriet Miers to succeed Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court.

Miers, an able lawyer of high moral character, lacked the experience and bona fides one should expect from a Supreme Court nominee.

I, along with fellow Republicans AND Democrats, urged President Bush to go in another direction.

He did so, and America has been well served by the service of Justice Samuel Alito ever since then.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is more than qualified.  More than ready.  And, more than prepared to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have the votes to advise and consent on a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

They should, they can, and they must act.

Don’t blame Mitch McConnell for doing his job.

Blame Harry Reid for how he did his.