October 06, 2018

Cortez Masto: Kavanaugh’s Extreme Judicial Philosophy Threatens Women, Environment, Separation of Powers & Fundamental Civil Rights

When I watched Judge Kavanagh’s testimony, I didn’t see a fair and impartial justice. I saw a man who is blinded by rage and ideology.

If confirmed, I believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme, activist judicial philosophy will pose a threat to women, our environment, our constitutional separation of powers and our fundamental civil rights.

I stand with survivors and I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

We must work together in a bipartisan way and restore our constitutional role of advice and consent. This is about something bigger than any one nominee. It’s about the integrity of our institutions. It’s about the core functions of our democracy. 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) spoke on the Senate floor tonight in opposition to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to sit on the Supreme Court. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:

I rise today as the Senate has been called upon to fulfill our Constitutional duty to give advice and consent on President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. In the past, Presidents worked with a bipartisan Senate to appoint someone who understood the importance of precedent and transparency; who respected the independence and integrity of the highest Court in the land.

Unfortunately, that did not happen during this nomination process.  Instead, the process was flawed to fast-track a nominee without a full vetting for political gain. Brett Kavanaugh was hand-picked by the Federalist Society, a right wing lobbying organization dedicated to overturning Roe v. Wade.

Why? Because—as he has made clear on several occasions—President Trump wants to stack the court with Justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. In his statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee and in his writings and opinions, Brett Kavanaugh has shown that he does not respect precedent.

He does not respect a woman’s right to choose. He does not respect workers’ rights.

If confirmed, I believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme, activist judicial philosophy will pose a threat to women, our environment, our constitutional separation of powers and our fundamental civil rights.

But it’s not just Brett Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy that troubles me.

Last week, Judge Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend himself against sexual assault allegations. He was asking for our vote for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, one of the deepest and most profound honors this nation can bestow upon a citizen.

This nominee was interviewing for a job in front of the American people. And he was belligerent, evasive and aggressive.

This nominee, who currently sits as an Appellate Court Judge on the DC Circuit Court disregarded all demeanor and respect for impartiality and independence by accusing the Democrats of engaging in, “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about [his] judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons[,] and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”

And then taking it even further by stating, “And as we all know in the United States political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around.”

“What goes around comes around?” Are those the words of an impartial Judge? Of course not.

During the question and answer period with the Senators, he was belligerent, impatient, and aggressive towards anyone who pressed him to get to the truth.

His demonstrated lack of temperament and impartiality is another reason why I cannot support him. It is also why over 2,400 law professors from respected law schools across this country penned a letter to the senators to state that the Senate should not confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

They wrote, “Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge…a judge requires a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.”

They further stated, “At the Senate hearings on Sep. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.”

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens—a Republican appointed by President Ford—stated similar concerns.

When I watched Judge Kavanagh’s testimony, I didn’t see a fair and impartial justice. I saw a man who is blinded by rage and ideology.

As a sitting Judge, Brett Kavanaugh knows better.

He knows better.

His accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for four hours. She was poised, serious and credible in recounting what was clearly one of the most scarring, traumatic experiences of her life. On live television. For all the world to hear.

She did it in the face of death threats. She did it at the risk of damaging her credibility and her career. She has done a profound public service to everyone whose life has been touched by sexual assault or abuse.

Dr. Ford, I believe you and I thank you for your courage in coming forward.

I believe in a fair and independent process for people who have been accused of serious crimes like sexual assault. The process should include a neutral investigation that is thorough and nonpartisan because it will hold a perpetrator accountable or exonerate the falsely accused.

But that fair and independent process did not occur this time.

I’m glad some of my colleagues stood up to make sure the FBI had a chance to reopen its background investigation. But after reading the recent FBI report, it is clear that Republican leadership limited its scope. So now, all Senators are left with a lack of a full understanding of the facts surrounding the allegations against Brett Kavanagh.   

The questions swirling around Brett Kavanaugh get at the very heart of our responsibility as members of the United State Senate.

We are not here to be a rubber stamp on the President’s nominees. We are a check and balance on his power.

We are here to work with him to make decisions that are right for the American people. That means we listen to our constituents.

That includes women and men who have buried their experiences of trauma for far too long.

I have received letters from my constituents, from all over Nevada, sharing their stories of survival.

I heard from men and women in our military who were struggling not just with the effects of PTSD, but with the experience of being sexually abused.

I recently met with women who led the campaign to codify a woman’s right to choose in the Nevada state constitution.

They all asked me to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

And I stand with them.

I stand with survivors.

I stand for the right of every American woman to make her own healthcare decisions.

I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

I believe in the integrity and independence of our judicial system.

I condemn Brett Kavanaugh’s confrontational and partisan behavior.

And I condemn the handling of this nomination by Senate Republican leaders.

We must work together in a bipartisan way and restore our constitutional role of advice and consent. This is about something bigger than any one nominee. It’s about the integrity of our institutions. It’s about the core functions of our democracy.

We can’t allow partisan politics to eat away at the checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution. We have to return to common decency and regular order.

Anything less is below the dignity of the American people and the great Constitution we swore an oath to faithfully support.

I encourage all of my colleagues to join me in voting against this temperamentally unfit nominee. Join me in continuing to find the right one.

Thank you, M. President. I yield the floor.