D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, one of 25 judges on a Trump shortlist for the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke in 2015 on a panel about judging. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL

Brett Kavanaugh, the longtime D.C. Circuit judge and now U.S. Supreme Court nominee, has spoken often about impartiality and his service on the bench. Kavanaugh got the nod Monday night to succeed the retiring Anthony Kennedy at the high court. What follows are snippets from some of Kavanaugh’s remarks over the years, some of which could come into sharper focus now as his nomination moves forward in the U.S. Senate.

>> Anthony Kennedy “has a very deep vision of equality and liberty that you find expressed in a variety of areas,” Kavanaugh said. “If it’s a tight case, a controversial case, and you’re wondering where he will come out, often times it’s good to put your chips on the individual, rather than the government.” [2015]

>> “If the president does something dastardly, the impeachment process is available,” Kavanaugh wrote in a law review article. “No single prosecutor, judge, or jury should be able to accomplish what the Constitution assigns to the Congress. Moreover, an impeached and removed president is still subject to criminal prosecution afterwards.” [2009]

>> “On the question of Roe v. Wade, if confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the Court. It’s been decided by the Supreme Court—and I’m saying if I were confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, senator, I would follow it. It’s been reaffirmed many times, including in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.” Kavanaugh added: “I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to give a personal view of that case.” [2006]

>> “To be a good umpire and a good judge, don’t be a jerk. In your opinions, to demonstrate civility—to show, to help display, that you’re trying to make the decision impartially, dispassionately, based on the law and not based on your emotions. We’re not bigger than the game.”

“To be a good judge and a good umpire, you have to tune out the crowd noise. There’s a lot of criticism of judge’s decisions in the media and on blogs. We can’t be buffaloed, influenced, pressured into worrying too much about transient popularity when we’re trying to decide the case based on long-term principle that is at issue in a particular case. We can’t just rule for the most popular side.”

“You feel uncomfortable sometimes—I do, I know my colleagues do—with the effects of your decisions. If you’re being a good judge that means sometimes you’re doing something that you really don’t like the result—in the sense of the implications for the particular people—but you were following the law. But that doesn’t make it pleasant.” [Columbus School of Law, 2015]

>> “[Merrick Garland] is supremely qualified by the objective characteristics of experience, temperament, writing ability, scholarly ability for the Supreme Court. Obviously, questions about the process of what’s going on and the direction of the Supreme Court and what role judicial philosophy should play in the confirmation process are really above my pay grade.” [Remarks at American Enterprise Institute, March 2016]

>> “Even in the absence of congressionally conferred immunity, a serious constitutional question exists regarding whether a president can be criminally indicted and tried while in office,” Kavanaugh wrote. He added that the indictment and trial of a president “would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas.” [Separation of Powers During the 44th Presidency and Beyond, 2009]


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