On Saturday evening, October 6, U.S. Supreme Court nominee and now-former member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Brett Kavanaugh, 53, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate 50-48. Immediately following the confirmation, Kavanaugh was officially sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice by Chief Justice John Roberts and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Two days later, on Monday, October 8, President Trump introduced the newly sworn-in Supreme Court Justice to the nation in a ceremonial swearing-in, held in the East Room of the White House. Every sitting member of the U.S. Supreme Court was present and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy led the public swearing-in. It was the first time a Supreme Court Justice swore-in one of his former clerks.
In his remarks, Justice Kavanaugh noted:
“… I take this office with gratitude and no bitterness. On the Supreme Court, I will seek to be a force for stability and unity. My goal is to be a great Justice for all Americans and for all of America. I will work very hard to achieve that goal.
“I was not appointed to serve one party or one interest, but to serve one nation. America’s Constitution and laws protect every person of every belief and every backgrounds. Every litigant in the Supreme Court can be assured that I will listen to their arguments with respect and an open mind. Every American can be assured that I will be an independent and impartial Justice devoted to equal justice under law.
“Although the Senate confirmation process tested me, as it has tested others, it did not change me. My approach to judging remains the same. A good judge must be an umpire, a neutral and impartial decider who favors no litigant or policy. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.
“In the wake of the Senate confirmation process, my approach to life also remains the same. I will continue to heed the message of Matthew 25. I will continue to volunteer to serve the least fortunate among us. I will continue to coach, teach, and tutor. I will continue to strive to be a good friend, colleague, husband, and dad.
“As in the past, our nation today faces challenges and divisions. But I am an optimist. I live on the sunrise side of the mountain. I see the day that is coming, not the day that is gone. I am optimistic about the future of America and the future of our independent judiciary, the crown jewel of our constitutional republic.
“As a Justice on the Supreme Court, I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.”
Rather than providing a description or commentary on short talks given by President Trump and Justice Kavanaugh, see and hear for yourself in this short video of the event.
Also worth knowing, here are five faith facts about Kavanaugh, as reported by Religious News Service (RNS):
- Kavanaugh is Catholic. The judge is a regular lector at his church, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C., near his Maryland home. He also volunteers for the St. Maria’s Meals program at Catholic Charities, according to his biography on the court website and has tutored at the Washington Jesuit Academy.
- He has ruled on issues important to religious conservatives, including abortion rights. Nominated by President George W. Bush, whom he served as a White House lawyer, Kavanaugh has spent 12 years as a judge on the D.C. Circuit and has a long history of judicial decisions behind him. Among them: Kavanaugh dissented last year on a controversial decision that allowed an undocumented teenager who had crossed from Mexico into Texas as an unaccompanied minor to get an abortion while living in a government-funded shelter. The decision, he wrote, was “ultimately based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong: a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand.”
- He also opposed the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate. In 2015, he wrote a dissent opposing an accommodation to the birth control mandate. A panel had upheld the accommodation requiring religious organizations to sign a form facilitating contraceptive coverage for their employees. He wrote those regulations “substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations to take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs (submitting the form) or else pay significant monetary penalties.”
- Some conservatives are worried he’s not conservative enough. His ruling on that abortion case involving the unaccompanied minor was less restrictive than other judges, giving some cause to worry that he is too pragmatic. Similarly, these voters favor his dissent opposing the birth control mandate, but worry it conceded that the government has an interest in providing coverage for contraceptives, but that “the government can achieve it in other ways,” according to SCOTUSblog. Meantime, LGBTQ groups have expressed concern about his promotion by the conservative Family Research Council in 2005 when he initially was nominated for the D.C. circuit. Family Research Council is a Christian lobbying group that believes “homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed.”
- He preserves the current religious ratio on the court. He replaces his fellow Catholic, Kennedy, for whom he clerked. That means, if his nomination is approved, the religious makeup of the court would remain the same. That currently includes five Catholic justices, three Jewish justices and Trump’s previous pick, Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic but now attends an Episcopal church.
- VIDEO: Public swearing-in of Justice Brett Kavanaugh (only the actual event, no commentary)
- Transcript of the short talks of President Trump and Justice Kavanaugh