A Responsible Confirmation Process for Judge Kavanaugh, Not Distortions, Scare Tactics

‘In a "breaking news" bombshell report just last night, we learned that Judge Kavanaugh enjoys America’s pastime. Investigative reporters scoured his financial disclosures, and learned that he and his friends buy tickets to baseball games and that he pays his bills.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.  U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court:

“On Monday, the president made a superb choice. He chose to fill a place on the nation’s highest court with one of the nation’s brightest legal minds. Judge Brett Kavanaugh brings unimpeachable academic credentials -- as a student at Yale, and a lecturer at Harvard. He carries over a decade of experience ruling from the nation’s most consequential circuit bench.

“Along the way, he’s earned the admiration and praise of his peers -- legal professionals with all manner of judicial, and political, philosophies -- for his professional abilities and experience as well as qualities that go beyond his resume. Nevertheless, the instant Judge Kavanaugh was announced, far-left groups and some of our own Democratic colleagues started pushing the same old scare tactics.

“More than a week before the announcement one Democratic Senator explained on cable news that President Trump’s nominee -- whoever it was -- would threaten, quote, ‘the destruction of the Constitution, as far as I can tell.’ The president hadn’t even named his selection -- and already, our entire system of government was on its last legs? Give me a break. And this senator, by the way, serves on the Judiciary Committee.

“One left-wing group had an angry press release all ready to go for whomever the nominee would be – but after Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination was announced they forgot to fill in his name. So they wound up decrying all the terrible things that would happen if we confirmed the president’s ‘nomination of XX to the Supreme Court.’ That kind of says it all. Fill-in-the-blank opposition. Well, our Democratic friends have learned Judge Kavanaugh’s name by now. But the hysterical attacks haven’t gotten any less desperate, or any more sensible.

“No sooner are these silly attacks launched than they’re beaten back by the facts. One of the flavors of the week was this outlandish claim that -- in law review articles he wrote 10 and 20 years ago -- Judge Kavanaugh supposedly said that sitting presidents cannot be held accountable under the law.

“Some far-left special interests claimed he said that. So did some Congressional Democrats. It was perfect conspiracy theory catnip for their far-left base. The only problem was, it isn’t true. People who’ve actually looked at these articles note that Judge Kavanaugh ‘does not reach legal conclusions on issues’ of presidential accountability.

“If anything, he seems to arrive at the opposite conclusion of what’s been alleged. Professor Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School observed that, ‘from a legal and constitutional perspective,’ Judge Kavanaugh ‘wasn’t saying that the courts should find that the President shouldn’t be investigated’ or held accountable. Quote, ‘to the contrary,’ unquote… to the contrary…

“Professor Feldman observes that Judge Kavanaugh’s logic would seem to imply that any president is open to being investigated and held accountable under the law. Here’s how Professor Feldman finished up his debunking of this unfair attack: Quote, ‘trying to oppose him on logically backward grounds doesn’t serve anyone’s interests.’

“The Washington Post’s fact-checker jumped on the Democrats’ mischaracterization. It explained that Judge Kavanaugh’s scholarly articles actually contained, quote, ‘a mainstream view’ on this constitutional question. They blasted the Democrat rhetoric as, quote, ‘an extreme distortion of what he has written.’ Let me sum that up. According to the Washington Post, it is Judge Kavanaugh’s analysis that is ‘mainstream.’ It’s the distortions of his record by Congressional Democrats and far-left special interest groups that are ‘extreme.’

“You know, we have a word for blatantly misrepresenting the record and character of a judicial nominee in order to achieve a political objective. We call it an attempt to ‘Bork’ the nominee. It refers to how Judge Robert Bork was slandered back in the 1980s, when people—both inside and outside the Congress—blatantly and shamelessly distorted his record to claim he’d do terrible things if confirmed to the Supreme Court. It’s in the dictionary, literally.

“Judge Bork’s last name is in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as a verb. It means: ‘To attack or defeat a nominee or candidate for public office unfairly through an organized campaign of harsh public criticism or vilification.’ It’s now in the dictionary. Completely unfair vilification. Looking back, most people agree now that this episode was grossly unfair, insulted the intelligence of the American people, and stained the history of the Senate.

“Jeffrey Rosen was a Democrat who worked in Senator Biden’s office on the Democrats’ side during that episode. Here’s what he wrote a few years ago:‘I remember feeling that the nominee was being treated unfairly. Senator Edward Kennedy set the tone with a demagogic attack…. Bork’s record was distorted beyond recognition… it [was] bad for the country.’

“And here’s what a lawyer who helped lead the anti-Bork effort wrote just last year: ‘I regret my part in what I now regard as a terrible political mistake.’ Because of that episode, he goes on, quote, ‘we have undermined public confidence in the judiciary.’ So there is widespread and bipartisan agreement that trying to ‘Bork’ judicial nominees is harmful to our democratic process and to our judiciary.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s impressive record, impeccable credentials, and his enormous, bipartisan fan club of judicial peers and legal scholars all attest to the outstanding service he would render on the Supreme Court. I’m glad that outside fact-checkers are already swatting down Democrats’ desperate attacks on his nomination.

“In a ‘breaking news’ bombshell report just last night, we learned that Judge Kavanaugh enjoys America’s pastime. Investigative reporters scoured his financial disclosures, and learned… that he and his friends buy tickets to baseball games… and that he pays his bills. So as you can see, there’s still plenty of silliness to go around. I urge every one of my colleagues to treat Judge Kavanaugh’s record truthfully, and treat the confirmation process with the respect that it, and this institution in which we serve, deserves. We need to act like a responsible United States Senate going through a confirmation process to the United States Supreme Court.”

Related Issues: Nominations, Supreme Court, Judicial Nominations