What should President Trump look for in a Supreme Court nominee? Exactly what he did with his selection of Justice Neil Gorsuch and his slate of lower-court nominees. He should ask one question: Who is best at being a judge, as demonstrated by a consistent record of applying textualist and originalist reasoning to significant legal questions?
In the past week, every serious, informed conservative who’s been asked about Judge Brett Kavanaugh has championed his unwavering conservative principles. See, for example, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Leonard Leo, Eugene Scalia, Matt Schlapp, J. D. Vance, and Ed Whelan. But whereas these and countless more have been proud to put their names to endorsements of the unflappable conservativism of Brett Kavanaugh, yesterday a commentator at the Federalist website was unwilling to sign his or her name to a post accusing Judge Kavanaugh of having “a troubling record on religious liberty.” This anonymous critic charges that Judge Kavanaugh “doesn’t really fully understand religious liberty claims and the law and legal doctrine that support them” or “doesn’t really care, even when the law requires otherwise.” Those outrageous suggestions — that one of the most respected members of the federal bench is either ignorant or willfully lawless — discredit everything the author says and explain why the post was submitted anonymously.
In two dissenting opinions and one concurring opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Kavanaugh sided with American citizens and U.S. industry over illegal aliens and foreign competitors — opinions that align to Trump’s “America First” approach to the U.S. economy, immigration, worker protections, and trade.