Responding to criticism of his unrestrained testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday expressed regret and pledged that if confirmed, he would be “the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career.”
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed posted Thursday night, Kavanaugh stated, “I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.”
Christine Blasey Ford, now a research psychologist in California, claimed Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a house party in the 1980s when they were high school students. Ford testified she was “100 percent” certain Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, tried to pull off her clothes and covered her mouth to stop her from screaming. Ford said she recalled the “uproarious laughter” between Kavanaugh and a friend. Ford’s claims first publicly emerged last month, forcing the confirmation proceedings to reopen.
Kavanaugh, testifying last week, said, “This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”
With the FBI’s controversial investigation of his alleged sexual assault finished, the discomfort about Kavanaugh’s anguished attack on Democrats, the Clintons and others loomed as another possible obstacle in his path to confirmation, which could occur over the weekend. Whether or not his column will quiet the controversy is uncertain.
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Thursday told a Florida audience that his previous admiration of Kavanaugh as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit was diminished by his testimony.
“At that time, I thought [Kavanaugh] had the qualifications for the Supreme Court should he be selected,” the 98-year-old Stevens said. “I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability.” He added: “I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.”
More than 900 law professors joined in sending a letter to the Senate asserting that Kavanaugh’s Sept. 27 testimony “displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.”
Elsewhere in his Wall Street Journal column, Kavanaugh wrote, “As a judge, I have always treated colleagues and litigants with the utmost respect. I have been known for my courtesy on and off the bench. I have not changed. I will continue to be the same kind of judge I have been for the last 12 years. And I will continue to contribute to our country as a coach, volunteer, and teacher. Every day I will try to be the best husband, dad, and friend I can be. I will remain optimistic, on the sunrise side of the mountain. I will continue to see the day that is coming, not the day that is gone.”
Kavanaugh added, “I revere the Constitution. I believe that an independent and impartial judiciary is essential to our constitutional republic. If confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep an open mind in every case and always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.”
Writing at the Washington Post on Thursday, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher appellate partner Mark Perry, who’s known Kavanaugh for 30 years, pushed back against what he described as “one-sided and inaccurate” portrayals of Kavanaugh.
“The truth is that the Brett Kavanaugh I’ve known since 1991 is a good and decent man, a principled and disciplined jurist, and a rigorous and careful thinker,” Perry, who’s argued in front of Kavanaugh and socialized with him, said in his op-ed. “His nomination reflects the unparalleled record of achievement he has built up over the long course of his professional life.”