Alexander to Senate Colleagues: Don’t Treat Judge Kavanaugh as Someone Recently Released From San Quentin State Prison

Posted on August 21, 2018



*VIDEO of the senator’s remarks are available here.* 

WASHINGTON, August 21, 2018 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today urged his Senate colleagues to not treat Judge Brett Kavanaugh as someone recently released from San Quentin State Prison when the Senate begins hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court.

“The Senate has developed a bad habit, and that bad habit is treating presidential nominees as ‘innocent until nominated.’ I hope to see better behavior during the next few weeks as the Senate begins hearings on President Trump’s nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to be a member of the United States Supreme Court,” Alexander said. “Instead of treating Judge Kavanaugh as someone recently released from San Quentin State Prison, I hope we treat him with dignity and respect so that Americans can better understand his temperament, his intelligence, and his character. That’s what we should want to know about a presidential nominee for the Supreme Court.”

Alexander continued, “Some senators insist that Judge Kavanaugh should tell them how he might decide a case. This reminds me of a story from U.S. Senator Howard Baker Jr., the former Majority Leader of the United States Senate from Tennessee, who was a practicing lawyer in the mountains. He said he was once before a mountain judge who told lawyers just before the case: ‘Boys, just give me a little on the law. I had a telephone call last night, and I pretty well know the facts.’ Judges aren’t supposed to decide a case in advance — that’s why we have judges, to create an impartial system of justice.

“In 2006, I voted for Judge Kavanaugh when he was President George W. Bush’s nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia Circuit. Last month, I attended President Trump’s nomination of Judge Kavanaugh at the White House. It is said that you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and Judge Kavanaugh certainly took advantage of his one opportunity that night. I was impressed again with Judge Kavanaugh when I visited with him in my office a few weeks ago. We discussed federalism, how to strengthen the Supreme Court as an institution, and other matters — but never once did I ask him how he might vote on a particular case.”

Alexander concluded, “I will not announce how I will vote on his nomination until the hearings are complete. Some Democrat senators already have announced their opposition to Judge Kavanaugh. Well I wonder, why have a hearing? Why demand to review more of his writings if you’ve already decided how to vote? ...During my eight years as governor of Tennessee, I appointed about 50 judges. In doing so, I looked for the same qualities I will look for in considering the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh: intelligence, character, temperament, respect for the law, and respect for those who come before the court. I did not ask one applicant to be a Tennessee judge of that entire 50, how he or she would rule on abortion or immigration or taxation. And political party membership was far down my list of considerations when I had the job, as the chief executive of a state, of appointing judges.”

VIDEO of the senator’s remarks are available here.

After meeting with Judge Kavanaugh on July 26, Alexander said, “the Senate is fortunate to have someone of his caliber to consider.”

Alexander wrote an op-ed about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination process, which is available here.