Judge Kavanaugh: One impressive nominee

Thursday, August 9, 2018
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Judge Kavanaugh

Sen. Jon Tester has a difficult decision ahead of him. Should he vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and risk alienating his fundraising base, or should he vote no on Kavanaugh and risk alienating many Montanans?

As every good inquiry should begin, let’s take an objective look at Kavanaugh’s credentials. The judge graduated from Yale College cum laude (with distinction) in 1987 and Yale Law School in 1990. His work history is as follows: law clerk for the Third Circuit, law clerk for the Ninth Circuit, a Bristow Fellow for the solicitor general, law clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, an attorney for Ken Starr, a partner in a law firm, associate counsel for President George W. Bush, a judge on the D.C. Circuit since 2006, and a lecturer at Harvard Law School since 2009. Clearly an accomplished person.

Kavanaugh is a proven commodity. With over 300 published opinions, we know he is a judge who will follow the law, not make it. His opinions are often cited by the Supreme Court and other courts. Thirty-nine of his 48 law clerks have gone to clerk at the Supreme Court. Importantly, he is known as a mentor who really takes time to know his law clerks and help them in their career.

I like the fact Kavanaugh is active in his community. He coaches Catholic Youth Organization basketball, is a reader at his church, serves meals to needy families, and tutors children at local schools.

Kavanaugh once wrote: “The judge’s job is to interpret the law, not to make the law or make policy. So read the words of the statue as written. Read the text of the Constitution as written, mindful of history and tradition. Don’t make up new constitutional rights that are not in the text of the Constitution.” Sounds like my kind of judge.

For most of our history, a U.S. senator decided to vote a Supreme Court nominee up or down based on their credentials. Whether they were a conservative, liberal, or moderate was not considered much. Of course, like a lot of American politics, this has changed in the last few decades.

So, what will our senior senator do? There is no doubt Kavanaugh is conservative. His statement above establishes that fact. Will Tester vote against Kavanaugh because he is conservative? I guess that is why senators get paid the big bucks. To make tough decisions in important times.

Russ Fagg served 22 years as a District Court judge in Billings. This year, he ran in the GOP Senate primary to face incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, but lost the race to fellow primary candidate Matt Rosendale on June 5.