August 28, 2018
SCOTUS | Democrats’ Delay Tactics Aimed at Distracting from Judge Kavanaugh’s Qualifications
Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Judiciary Committee
Delay Tactics Aimed at Distracting from Judge Kavanaugh’s Qualifications
August 28, 2018
week from today, Judge Brett Kavanaugh will appear before the Senate Judiciary
Committee for the first day of his confirmation hearing. After reviewing
Judge Kavanaugh’s very extensive record, I’m convinced that he is perhaps the
most qualified person ever nominated to the Supreme Court.
of my colleagues on the other side—including all of the Democratic members of
the Judiciary Committee—have asked that I delay Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing.
They’ve asked me to delay the hearing because of legal issues surrounding some
of the President’s former associates. It’s not quite clear to me what one has
to do with the other, but this is—by my count—the third strategy Democratic
leaders have used to try to delay Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing.
outside groups, if you recall, announced their opposition to any one of the 25
potential nominees before the President made his selection. Some Democrats
joined them, and many others announced their opposition immediately after the
nomination. The Minority Leader, before he even had the chance to meet with
Judge Kavanaugh or review his record, said he would fight the nomination with
everything he’s got.
leaders’ first strategy was to try to argue that the Biden Rule—which bars the
confirmation of Supreme Court justices in a presidential election year—applies
during midterm election years.
forget, many of these senators argued in 2016 that the Biden Rule didn’t even
exist. Fact-checkers and outside observers widely rejected their argument. The
historical record was clear: the Biden Rule has never applied during midterm
second strategy Democratic leaders pursued was to attempt to bury the Senate
Judiciary Committee in mountains of irrelevant paperwork. I have discussed the
issue at length previously, but the bottom line is that we have received more
pages of documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as an Executive Branch lawyer
than we did for any previous Supreme Court nominee. This on top of the 307
opinions he wrote and hundreds more he joined as a judge on the D.C. Circuit
over the past twelve years—as well as the nearly 18,000 pages we received in
connection with his Committee Questionnaire.
leaders are now asking me to delay Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing because of some of
the President’s former associates’ legal troubles. But this is just another
obvious and opportunistic attempt to push the confirmation past the midterm
all, both Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer were confirmed
while President Clinton was personally under investigation for the Whitewater
controversy. In fact, Justice Breyer was confirmed while President Clinton’s
personal documents were under a grand jury subpoena. Moreover, between June
1993 and February 1999—a period during which President Clinton faced significant
legal jeopardy—the Senate confirmed 248 district judges and 50 circuit judges
to lifetime appointments. It’s clear that Democratic leaders’ latest attempt to
delay the confirmation is unsupported in law and history.
reason Democratic leaders have focused on these issues is to divert attention
from Judge Kavanaugh’s record. They know that Judge Kavanaugh is the exact type
of justice the American people want.
Kavanaugh has served for twelve years on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
During that time, he authored more than 300 opinions and joined hundreds more.
The Supreme Court has, in at least a dozen separate cases, adopted a legal
position advanced by Judge Kavanaugh in his opinions—a very impressive record.
Kavanaugh has demonstrated that he understands the proper role of the
judge. In numerous opinions and in speeches and publications, Judge
Kavanaugh has eloquently expressed that judges must interpret the law as it is
written, not how they wish the law was written.
recently said: “When courts apply doctrines that allow them to rewrite the laws
(in effect), they are encroaching on the legislature’s Article I power.”
Kavanaugh has also said that judges must apply the same approach to all cases.
said: “Like cases should be treated alike by judges of all ideological and
philosophical stripes, regardless of the subject matter and regardless of the
identity of the parties to the case.”
Kavanaugh’s judicial record reveals that he follows his own advice. He decides
cases based on his understanding of the law as written, not his own personal
policy preferences or who the litigant is.
addition to his impeccable qualifications and record of achievement, Judge
Kavanaugh has shown a dedication to public service, mentorship, and diversity.
He spent all but three years of his legal career in public service. He
volunteers his time to coach both his daughters’ youth basketball teams and
serves meals to the homeless with Catholic Charities.
Kavanaugh is a proven mentor to law students and young lawyers. Judge Kavanaugh
has taught courses at Harvard Law School on the Separation of Powers and the
modern Supreme Court since 2008. The Senate Judiciary Committee received a
letter in support of his confirmation from his former students. They wrote:
“We . . . represent
a broad spectrum of political and ideological beliefs, as well as perspectives
on judicial philosophy. We may have differing views on political issues
surrounding the confirmation process, but we all agree on one thing: Judge
Kavanaugh is a rigorous thinker, a devoted teacher, and a gracious person.”
“Both inside and outside the classroom,
Judge Kavanaugh evinced a genuine warmth and interest in his students and their
“He was exceptionally generous with his
time, making himself available to meet with students not only to discuss the
class, but also to assist with their scholarly writing or to offer career
advice. In many instances, he has continued to provide advice and support long
after the class ended by writing letters of recommendation and serving as a
valued mentor. In our view, his genuine interest in helping young lawyers
demonstrates a deep commitment to the legal community as a whole.”
judges also play an important role in mentoring the next generation of lawyers.
They typically hire four new law clerks each year to help them research and
decide cases. A law clerk is like a judge’s right arm. A judge’s law clerks
know the judge better than anyone else. Day-in and day-out, law clerks work
closely with the judge in chambers every day on complex legal issues. Judge
Kavanaugh has evidently taken his mentorship role seriously.
former law clerks submitted a letter to this committee strongly supporting his
confirmation. They wrote:
“It was a tremendous stroke of luck to
work for and be mentored by a person of his strength of character, generosity
of spirit, intellectual capacity, and unwavering care for his family, friends,
colleagues, and us, his law clerks.”
“He is unfailingly warm and gracious
with his colleagues no matter how strongly they disagree about a case, and he
is well-liked and respected by judges and lawyers across the ideological
spectrum as a result. . . . He always makes time for us, his law
clerks. He makes it to every wedding, answers every career question, and gives
unflinchingly honest advice. That advice often boils down to the same habits we
saw him practice in chambers every day: Shoot straight, be careful and brave, work
as hard as you possibly can, and then work a little harder.”
of the areas where Judge Kavanaugh has had a particular impact is his
commitment to diversity. More than half of his law clerks have been female.
Indeed, during one year, all four of his law clerks were female—which was a
first for the D.C. Circuit. Judge Kavanaugh’s female law clerks sent the
Committee a letter. They wrote:
“We know all too well that women in the
workplace still face challenges, inequality, and even harassment. Among other
things, women do not enjoy a representative share of prestigious clerkships or
high-profile legal positions. But this Committee, and the American public more
broadly, should be aware of the important work Judge Kavanaugh has done to
remedy those disparities. In our view, the Judge has been one of the strongest
advocates in the federal judiciary for women lawyers. . . .”
Judge Kavanaugh has a track record of recruiting and hiring diverse law clerks
from the best law schools. It’s clear that he cares about expanding
opportunities to unrepresented groups in the law. The legal profession should
be open to anyone, regardless of where they grew up or where their parents
emigrated from. Judge Kavanaugh’s clerks reflect this important principle.
sum, Democratic leaders committed months ago to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s
confirmation. They’ve thrown a lot against the wall to try to delay his
confirmation, but nothing has stuck. Judge Kavanaugh will have his hearing next
week, and I’m looking forward to it. Based on my review of Judge Kavanaugh’s
extensive record, it appears that he is extremely qualified to sit on the
Supreme Court, he understands the proper role of a judge in our constitutional
system, and he has devoted time to serving his community and improving the