President Trump kept everyone guessing to the end about his Supreme Court selection Monday, but in nominating Brett Kavanaugh he also kept his promise to select a Justice “who will faithfully interpret the Constitution as written.” Judge Kavanaugh has an exemplary record that suggests he will help to restore the Supreme Court to its proper, more modest role in American politics and society.
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice is President Trump’s finest hour, his classiest move. Last week the president promised to select “someone with impeccable credentials, great intellect, unbiased judgment, and deep reverence for the laws and Constitution of the United States.” In picking Judge Kavanaugh, he has done just that.
Social conservatives understand the stakes in filling the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. President Trump, who has excelled in his judicial nominations to date, has the opportunity to transform the Court for a generation to come. This is no time for a gamble. As social conservatives know from bitter experience, a judicial record is the best — really, the only — accurate predictor of a prospective justice’s philosophy on the issues that matter most to us. On the vital issues of protecting religious liberty and enforcing restrictions on abortion, no court-of-appeals judge in the nation has a stronger, more consistent record than Judge Brett Kavanaugh. On these issues, as on so many others, he has fought for his principles and stood firm against pressure. He would do the same on the Supreme Court.
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.