WASHINGTON, DC – “I have given it my all in every case,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh said in his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, beginning his Supreme Court confirmation speaking of family, friends, and faith; remembering that judges decide cases for “real people” in an American system of “equal rights, equal dignity, and equal justice under law.”
“At the White House on the night of the announcement, the president and Mrs. Trump were very gracious to my daughters, my wife, and my parents,” Kavanaugh began with the senators, devoting the first part of his speech to thanking those who have helped him through his life and especially through the past couple months. “My family will always cherish that night.”
“Over the past eight weeks, I have witnessed first-hand the Senate’s deep appreciation for the vital role of the American Judiciary,” Kavanaugh continued, going on to thank the 65 senators who met with him over the past two months.
“I have served with 17 other judges, each of them a colleague and a friend,” he said in praise of his fellows on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, including “our superb chief judge, Merrick Garland,” in a gesture of nonpartisan friendship with Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee for the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, a seat that was eventually filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Kavanaugh also expressed gratitude to the former dean of Harvard Law School who hired him to teach her law students, thanking “now-Justice Elena Kagan,” who was appointed by President Barack Obama.
He also emphasized that judges must understand the human impact of their decisions, having compassion as they apply the law.
“Judges don’t deal in abstract principles,” he explained. “They decide real cases, for real people, in the real world.”
“Good judges must also stand in the shoes of others,” he told the committee, summarizing American law as one characterized by “equal rights, equal dignity, and equal justice under law.”
But while judges should care about their fellow human beings, they still must faithfully follow the words of the law that is relevant to each case before them.
“A good judge must be an umpire – a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy,” the judge said firmly. He elaborated:
I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge. I am not a pro-prosecution or pro-defense judge. I am a pro-law judge.
“A judge must interpret the law as written,” he said. “A judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history, and tradition, and precedent.”
“The Supreme Court is the last line of defense for the separation of powers and for the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution,” the judge declared. That is important because “the Constitution’s separation of powers protects individual liberty.”
“I have given it my all in every case,” he insisted. “I am proud of that body of work.”
“Don’t read about my judicial opinions,” he said, referring to the 307 judicial opinions he has authored over the past 12 years. “Read the opinions.”
Kavanaugh also emphasized the absolute necessity that the judiciary – and especially the Supreme Court – must not be “a partisan institution.”
“If confirmed to the Court, I would be part of a Team of Nine, committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States,” he promised. “I would always strive to be a team player on the Team of Nine.”
Kavanaugh also spoke of his Catholic faith. Referencing chapter 25 in the Gospel of Matthew, he explained his work with Church ministries and feeding the homeless by saying that he believes he is called to “try to serve the least fortunate among us.”
“I always want to do more, and do better,” the nominee added, striking a note of humility by acknowledging that he is still a work in progress in need of grace.
Pivoting to his home life, Kavanaugh lavished praise upon his family, especially his mother, a teacher-turned-prosecutor whom he said will always be the real “Judge Kavanaugh.”
“Margaret is the best girl you’ll ever know,” he said of his older daughter, his voice beginning to tighten. Of his younger daughter, he added with a smile, “I tell her every night that no one gives a better hug than Liza Kavanaugh.”
“Finally, I thank my wife Ashley,” he said. “Ashley is a kind soul. She always sees the goodness in others,” he said of his spouse. “She’s made me a better person and a better judge.”
“I thank God every day for my family,” he added in a voice heavy with emotion, as he worked to maintain his composure.
Kavanaugh describes himself as “an optimist” who lives “on the sunrise side of the mountain, not the sunset side of the mountain… I am optimistic about the future of America and the future of our independent judiciary.”
“I revere the Constitution,” the judge declared, promising to “keep an open mind in every case,” and to “do equal right to the poor and the rich.”
“I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law,” he concluded.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.