From The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday, July 10:
Aside from the prime-time hype and prolonged standing ovation, President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Monday evening was a sober and dignified occasion worthy of our nation’s highest court and highest office — no small feat in our current political climate.
Whether or not the 53-year-old Kavanaugh — a Yale Law School graduate, former clerk for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy and federal judge who has written over 300 opinions during his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — is worthy of our nation’s highest court is now in the hands of the Senate.
Some of Trump’s political opponents have vowed to block a vote on the Kavanaugh nomination before the 2018 midterms, much as President Barack Obama’s 2016 nominee, Merrick Garland, was denied a Senate vote. As with the Garland nomination, we view any blockade as misguided and urge our elected officials to fulfill their constitutional “advice and consent” duties.
Moreover, we hope the Senate hearings on Kavanaugh, while vigorous and thorough, are absent the acrimony and personal attacks seen in previous nominations. The Senate owes the American people a probing but civil examination of the nominee.
As with all nomination hearings, we hope that decency and factual accuracy are the hallmarks of this debate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to fight the Kavanaugh nomination “with everything I’ve got,” claiming that with Kavanaugh on the bench, Trump will be one step closer to fulfilling his campaign promises to “undo women’s reproductive freedom” and “undo the ACA (Affordable Care Act).”
Schumer’s statements notwithstanding, during previous confirmation hearings Kavanaugh has said he believes Roe vs. Wade is “binding precedent of the court” and would not move to undo the landmark abortion case. He’s also been criticized by conservative groups for his dissent in a case challenging the ACA that argued the controversial “individual insurance mandate” was a legitimate form of government taxation — an argument later employed by Chief Justice John Roberts to uphold the law.
Schumer calls these facts a “trick” and claims Kavanaugh will toe the Trump line on abortion, Obamacare and other key issues. Of course, others have tried to peer into the soul of past Supreme Court nominees. Yet as with previous and current justices — including Reagan nominees Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy and George H.W. Bush nominee David Souter — it’s difficult to predict how individual jurists will rule once they assume the awesome responsibility of deliberating on our nation’s highest court.
Certainly, the Senate must consider whether Kavanaugh or any nominee has a record that demonstrates the right temperament and qualifications for the job. And we believe it is just as important that any potential jurist faithfully applies the laws of this land using objective principles — free of undue influence from the politics or passions of the day. Nothing is more fundamental to the survival of our democracy and this republic than the rule of law.