Condoleezza Rice: Brett Kavanaugh Listens at a Time We’re ‘Almost Tribal, Living in Echo Chambers’

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, center, arrives to introduce Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of three official introducers on Tuesday for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, suggested he might be just the justice needed to heal an environment “where we have become almost tribal, living in echo chambers.”

Along with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Lisa Blatt, a law partner and self-described liberal feminist, Rice gave an introduction at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on Kavanaugh’s nomination immediately before Kavanaugh himself spoke for the first time. Like Portman, Rice served with Kavanaugh in the George W. Bush White House. At one time Kavanaugh served as White House Staff Secretary while Rice was Secretary of State and Portman was U.S. Trade Representative.

“Here’s the Brett Kavanaugh that I know,” Rice said, singing Kavanaugh’s praises as a former co-worker. “He is hard working. He has a sense of humor. He seeks truth in facts. There is no detail too small to gain his attention. He makes those around him better. Brett is wise. He is an old soul who is made to help steady us in these complicated times.”

The most striking moment, given the contentiousness of the hearing as a whole, however, came as Rice recounted Kavanaugh’s ability to listen.

“Brett listens, especially to those with whom he disagrees,” Rice told the Judiciary Committee. “And in our charged environment, when we have become almost tribal, living in echo chambers and often finding comfort in the company of only those with whom we agree, this is an indispensable quality for the responsibilities of the Supreme Court.”

Earlier in Tuesday’s often chaotic hearing, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) cast shade on what she perceived as Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy, citing the decisions of renown liberal and activist Justice Earl Warren as the reason she was able to be a senator. Rice, who as Secretary of State occupied the highest federal office ever held by a black woman, offered a vision of the Constitution and of Kavanaugh’s own philosophy that were in harmony with that achievement.

“As a little girl born in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, who grew up to be secretary of state, I know personally our country’s long journey to guarantee equal rights,” Rice said. “I know the power of the Constitution and I know the gift of our democracy. The Supreme Court is a crucial guardian both of the Constitution and our democracy.”

“That is why I am so honored to introduce Brett Kavanaugh for these hearings,” Rice continued. “He will be an outstanding Supreme Court Justice. His intellect is unquestioned, his judgment is highly regarded. And I can personally attest to his character and integrity as a colleague.”

In conclusion, Rice posited, “Brett Kavanaugh will thoroughly and faithfully uphold the trust that is our heritage: the Constitution of the United States of America, the most remarkable governing document in human history.”


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