Cornyn Questions Kavanaugh During SCOTUS Hearings
‘I’ve been a judge for 12 years, Senator, and 307 opinions, I’m very proud of that record and been an independent judge for 12 years. As a judge, you’re not a Republican or a Democrat,’ Kavanaugh says.
WASHINGTON – During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today questioned Judge Kavanaugh on the importance of remaining an impartial arbiter of the law. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s line of questioning are below, and video can be found here .
SENATOR CORNYN: “When people go to court, should they expect a different outcome if the judge was nominated by a Republican from a court where the judge was nominated by a Democrat?”
JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH: “No. That’s an important principle of judicial independence and the judicial role. The judge’s ‘umpire vision’ that Chief Justice Roberts articulated, and I’ve talked about publicly many times, is critical. When you go to a baseball game, the umpire is not wearing the uniform of one team or another, and that’s a critical principle.”
SEN. CORNYN: “It strikes me as an important point given the suggestion that one of the reasons that people have objected to your nomination is, I believe the quote was, ” ‘you have Republican blood flowing in your veins.'”
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: “I’ve been a judge for 12 years, Senator, and 307 opinions, I’m very proud of that record and been an independent judge for 12 years. As a judge, you’re not a Republican or a Democrat.”
SEN. CORNYN: “You had to then sit in judgment later on in a case, the Hamdan case, which you’ve alluded to earlier, where the defendant was Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguard and driver… you ruled in favor of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver, correct?”
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: “That is correct. I wrote the majority opinion… The rule of law applies to all who come before the courts of the United States.”
SEN. CORNYN: “Even a non-citizen?”
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: “Yes. Non-citizens who are tried in U.S. courts, of course, have the constitutional rights.”
“Justices Clark and Burton, two appointees of President Truman, are the two deciding votes in Youngstown Steel. That’s a 6-3 decision, those two were the deciding votes. Therefore, those were both appointees of President Truman. And it’s wartime against Korea. They get to the Supreme Court. They’re the deciding votes in the Youngstown Steel case, which was an extraordinary national moment.
“So your conception of the role of a judge, it’s about the law. That’s distinct from policy and our judiciary depends on having people in it, and we are fortunate to have a wonderful federal judiciary. People in it who understand the difference between law and policy and are willing to apply principles of equal justice under law to anyone who comes before the court, even the most unpopular possible defendant is still entitled to due process and the rule of law. And I’ve tried to ensure that as a judge.”
SEN. CORNYN: “It’s hard for me to imagine a more unpopular defendant than Osama bin Laden’s driver and personal bodyguard. So I find the suggestion that somehow you are prejudiced against the small guy in favor of the big guy or that you are picking and choosing who you’re going to render judgment in favor of based on something other than the rule of law, I think this answers that question conclusively for me.”
“The fact that you could separate yourself from the emotional involvement you had along with so many people you worked with closely with in the White House on September 11th, and you can then as a judge, after you put on the black robe and take the oath of office, you could then render a judgment in favor of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver, because you apply the law equally to everybody that comes to your court.”
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.