Sen. Jon Tester has a difficult decision ahead of him. Should he vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and risk alienating his fundraising base, or should he vote no on Judge Kavanaugh and risk alienating many Montanans?
As every good inquiry should begin, let’s take an objective look at Judge Kavanaugh’s credentials. The judge graduated from Yale College cum laude (with distinction) in 1987 and Yale Law School in 1990. His work history is as follows: law clerk for the 3rd Circuit, law clerk for the 9th Circuit, a Bristow Fellow for the solicitor general, law clerk for Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court, an attorney for Ken Starr, a partner in a law firm, associate counsel for President George W. Bush, a judge on the D.C. Circuit since 2006, and a lecturer at Harvard Law School since 2009. Clearly an accomplished person.
Judge Kavanaugh is a proven commodity. With over 300 published opinions we know he is a judge who will follow the law, not make it. His opinions are often cited by the Supreme Court and other courts. Thirty-nine of his 48 law clerks have gone on to clerk at the Supreme Court. Importantly, he is known as a mentor who really takes time to know his law clerks and help them in their career.
I like the fact that Judge Kavanaugh is active in his community. He coaches Catholic Youth Organization basketball, is a reader at his church, serves meals to needy families, and tutors children at local schools.
Judge Kavanaugh once wrote: “The judge’s job is to interpret the law, not to make the law or make policy. So read the words of the statue 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.” Sounds like my kind of judge.
For most of our history, a U.S. senator decided to vote a Supreme Court nominee up or down based on his or her credentials. Whether they were a conservative, liberal, or moderate was not considered much. Of course, like a lot of American politics, this has changed in the last few decades.
So, what will our senior senator do? There is no doubt Judge Kavanaugh is conservative. His statement above establishes that fact. Will Sen. Tester vote against Judge Kavanaugh because he is conservative? I guess that is why senators get paid the big bucks. To make tough decisions in important times.
Russ Fagg was a state District Court Judge for 22 years, a former Montana legislator, and recently ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate for the right to challenge Sen. Tester.