US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Another Historic Opportunity to Shape the Direction of our Country

Another Historic Opportunity to Shape the Direction of our Country
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

In June, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the United States Supreme Court after 30 years. While we thank him for his years of service and dedication to our legal system, his announcement provides an important vacancy on our nation’s highest court. Confirming a president’s nominees to lifetime appointments to the federal bench is one of the most important jobs of the U.S. Senate. The decisions they make have lasting effects on the direction of our country for a generation or more.

On July 9, 2018, President Trump announced his intention to nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy. I had the opportunity to be at the White House for this historic announcement. Judge Kavanaugh currently sits on the D.C. Circuit Court, commonly referred to as the “second highest court in the land.” He graduated from Yale Law School and was a clerk for Justice Kennedy.

During his career, he has issued more than 300 opinions, so part of our job in the Senate will be to review them so we can learn more about his decision-making philosophy. The Supreme Court has endorsed Kavanaugh’s opinions more than a dozen times. In some cases, the Supreme Court upheld a D.C. Circuit Court opinion, which he joined, and in other cases, they used his dissenting opinions to overturn D.C. Circuit Court opinion.

Already, President Trump has done an excellent job of nominating fair-minded, conservative judges to the federal courts. In addition to Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court last year, today approximately one out of every eight circuit court judges on the bench has been nominated by President Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently announced that the Senate plans to schedule a vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation this fall. This timeframe is similar to the confirmation process of previous Supreme Court Justices who have been confirmed in recent years.

As a coequal branch of government, it is vital that our federal judges apply the law as it is written, regardless of the policy outcome. Some of our Democrat colleagues have demanded that nominees reveal how they would vote in a particular case based on the policy outcome. We believe this is inappropriate. Judges – particularly Supreme Court Justices who have the final say in the law – must be able and willing to put their personal beliefs aside and apply the law as it was written, not as he or she would like it to be.

The Constitution clearly laid out that the role of the Supreme Court is to fairly interpret the law that Congress creates. Period. The judiciary must not be politicized. Confirming fair, impartial judges who will adhere to the Constitution is one of our greatest responsibilities in the Senate, and one which I take very seriously. I look forward to a thorough and rigorous confirmation process as we consider the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh.

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