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Washington, DC—Today, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave his opening statement at the Senate Judiciary hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court.

The Senator highlighted Judge Kavanaugh’s “sterling character and qualifications,” noting that being well within the judicial mainstream has won him a strong backing in the legal community, with support from both sides. He also congratulated Chairman Grassley for the transparent vetting process, noting that he went out of his way to make as many documents accessible to members on both sides of the aisle as possible. 

Via YouTube

“If we could just get the politics out of this, I think we could all agree that Judge Kavanaugh is an indisputably qualified nominee with strong backing in the legal community who is well within the judicial mainstream. Go ask anyone who practices regularly before the Supreme Court who doesn’t have a partisan agenda and they’ll tell you Judge Kavanaugh is exactly the kind of person we should want on the Court.”

The full statement, as prepared for delivery, is below: 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’d first like to thank you for your tremendous work in organizing this hearing. This has been the most thorough Supreme Court confirmation process I’ve ever participated in. We’ve received more than twice as many documents for Judge Kavanaugh as for any Supreme Court nominee in our nation’s history. We have tens of thousands of pages of Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions, speeches, and other writings. This has been an exhaustive process, and I thank you for your leadership on it.
Now to our witness.
 
Judge Kavanaugh, it’s good to see you.
 
This is my fifteenth and final Supreme Court confirmation hearing. I’ve participated in the confirmation of every current Justice on the Court. I’ve participated in the confirmation of over half of all federal judges who have ever served. I know a good nominee when I see one. And you are a great nominee.
 
I’ve known you for a long time. I remember when you first came before this committee back in 2004 for your first confirmation hearing. I was the chairman at the time. I got to know you well. I was impressed by your intellect, your legal ability, and your integrity. At only 39 years of age, you knew more about the law than most lawyers who have practiced for a lifetime.
 
And you have been an outstanding judge. You have earned the respect of your colleagues, and of the Supreme Court as well. As you know, the Supreme Court has adopted the positions in your opinions no less than thirteen times. You’ve authored landmark opinions on the separation of powers, administrative law, and national security. You’ve served as a mentor to dozens of clerks and hundreds of law students. Your student reviews are off-the-charts favorable. You volunteer in the community. You coach youth basketball. You’re the sort of person many of us would like to have as a friend and a colleague. You also apparently like to eat pasta with ketchup, but nobody’s perfect.
 
Now, this being politics—and this being a Supreme Court confirmation hearing—my Democratic colleagues can’t admit that you’re actually a good judge, and a good person as well. They have to turn the volume up to eleven and try to paint you as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
 
Anyone who actually knows you knows that’s ridiculous. And the American people will see soon enough that you are a smart, decent, normal person who just so happens to have been nominated to the highest court in the land.
 
So here are the facts.
 
Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most distinguished judges in the entire country. He has served for over twelve years now on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The D.C. Circuit is often referred to as the second-highest court in the land because it hears many crucially important cases involving agency action and the separation of powers.
During his time on the bench, Judge Kavanaugh has heard over a thousand cases. He’s written more than three hundred opinions. His opinions span nearly five thousand pages in length.
 
But what’s remarkable about Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record is not just its length, but its depth, and its quality.
 
Judge Kavanaugh has been a true thought leader. He’s written powerful opinions on the separation of powers and administrative law. He’s shown that he brings a fair-minded approach to questions of criminal law and employment law. On almost every issue of consequence, Judge Kavanaugh has made a significant contribution to our nation’s jurisprudence.
 
And he’s won support from both sides of the political spectrum. This committee has received letters from former clerks, former colleagues, former students, and former classmates all attesting to Judge Kavanaugh’s sterling character and qualifications. Eminent members of the Supreme Court Bar and legal academia have all written in strong support of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. The authors of these letters emphasize that they have differing political views and that they do not agree on every subject. But to a person, they speak of Judge Kavanaugh’s integrity and judgment and they enthusiastically endorse his nomination.
 
I’d like to highlight one letter in particular, from 18 of Judge Kavanaugh’s former women law clerks. That’s all of his former women clerks who were not precluded by their current or pending employment from signing the letter. They write that “Judge [Kavanaugh] has been one of the strongest advocates in the federal judiciary for woman lawyers.” They detail the mentoring and encouragement Judge Kavanaugh has given them in their careers. And they say that it is “not an exaggeration to say that we would not be the professors, prosecutors, public officials, and appellate advocates we are today without his enthusiastic encouragement and unwavering support.”
 
It bears emphasis that these former clerks span the political divide. A number went on to clerk for liberal Justices. That itself shows you the high regard Judge Kavanaugh has across the ideological spectrum. Republican and Democratic-appointed Justices alike have hired his former clerks.
 
Judge Kavanaugh is no ideologue. He is no extremist. He is a highly respected, thoughtful, fair-minded judge who is well within the judicial mainstream. Look no further than the letter the Committee received from over forty members of the Supreme Court Bar supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. Among the signers are people like Lisa Blatt, Deanne Maynard, and Kathleen Sullivan. These are nationally renowned attorneys who practice frequently before the Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals. And they are not conservatives. To the contrary, they are among the most prominent liberal attorneys in the country.
 
But they know Judge Kavanaugh. They know his work. They know his character. They know that he is an outstanding judge. And they know that he will make an outstanding Justice.
 
If we could just get the politics out of this, I think we could all agree that Judge Kavanuagh is an indisputably qualified nominee with strong backing in the legal community who is well within the judicial mainstream. Go ask anyone who practices regularly before the Supreme Court who doesn’t have a partisan agenda and they’ll tell you Judge Kavanaugh is exactly the kind of person we should want on the Court.
 
Indeed, no less than Bob Bennett, Bill Clinton’s personal lawyer during Clinton’s presidency, wrote to the committee urging support for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. Here’s what he had to say: “As a Washington attorney, I can attest to the high esteem in which the bar holds [Judge Kavanaugh]. Lawyers love arguing before him because they know he will approach every case with an open mind.”
 
Bennett continues: “Brett is the most qualified person any Republican President could possibly have nominated. Were the Senate to fail to confirm Brett, it would not only mean passing up the opportunity to confirm a great jurist, but it would also undermine civility in politics twice over: first in playing politics with such an obviously qualified nominee, and then again in losing the opportunity to put such a strong advocate for decency and civility on our Nation’s highest court.” 
 
Again, this is President Clinton’s personal lawyer during Clinton’s presidency, who litigated against Judge Kavanaugh. Those who know Judge Kavanaugh hold him in the highest regard. This is true of both Republicans and Democrats.
 
Unfortunately, we have all these interest groups screaming from the sidelines and putting pressure on my Democratic colleagues to make this hearing about politics, to make it about pretty much anything except Judge Kavanaugh and his qualifications. We have folks who want to run for President, who want their moment in the spotlight, who want that coveted TV clip.
 
Frankly, I wish we could drop all this nonsense. Judge Kavanaugh is unquestionably qualified. He’s one of the most widely respected judges in the country. He’s well within the judicial mainstream. Anyone who wants to argue otherwise wants to banish half the country from the mainstream.
 
So Judge, I’m glad you’re here today. I’m sorry you’re going to have to go through some of the nonsense that’s about to come your way. But I know you’ll do well. You’re smart. You’re capable. And you’re a fundamentally decent, good person. Anyone who actually knows you knows that to be true.
 

I look forward to being there for your swearing-in.

 

 

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