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SCOTUS nominee: And so it begins
July 18, 2018

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The words were scarcely out of President Trump's mouth Monday when criticisms of his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, began to flow.

We have no problem with that.

Scrutiny is a good thing and it is not only a necessity, it is a must for an appointment to a life-time post to the third branch of our constitutional checks-and-balances form of government.

We do, however, take issue with the partisan divide that instantaneously demonizes "the other side" and any and all policies or picks "those guys" might proffer.

Much of the rhetoric this week has been directed less at the nominee than at the perceived "conservative" philosophy Judge Kavanaugh might bring to the bench - an unfortunate one-size-fits-all judgement that no doubt would have come from the "not my president" faction no matter the nominee tapped.

Such argument is not criticism, it's partisan politics, something our founders eschewed when they designed a judicial branch whose sole purpose - sole purpose - is to interpret the document formulated to hold the other two branches of our federal government in line for the protection of those at whose pleasure they serve.

Alexander Hamilton summed this up succinctly: "The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution," which Hamilton added "must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law."

That is the road President Trump said he took in nominating Judge Kavanaugh.

He said he followed the philosophy of President Ronald Reagan, who appointed both Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose seat President Trump's confirmed nominee will fill.

President Reagan, President Trump said, "... understood that the best defense of our liberty and a judicial branch immune from political prejudice where judges that apply the Constitution as written."

To that end, "In keeping with President Reagan's legacy, I do not ask about a nominee's personal opinions," President Trump said. "What matters is not a judge's political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require."

Love Trump or hate him, it's a position our founders would have embraced.

And it's one that Judge Kavanaugh said has been his beacon through a career that led to his 2006 appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit following nomination by President George W. Bush.

"My judicial philosophy is straightforward," Judge Kavanaugh said at President Trump's July 9 nomination announcement. "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."

The debate en route to the nomination hearings Republicans hope to conclude before the start of the High Court's session in October, should be solely whether Judge Kavanaugh is up to the task - not whether he is "conservative" or "liberal" or where he might stand on a singular issue.

Scrutinize?

Absolutely.

That's why nomination hearings are held.

Count us among those who will follow them closely.

But please note, President Trump could have done worse - much worse - out of the gate than a constitutional scholar whose curriculum vitae not only includes authorship of more than 300 opinions at the appellate level but continued involvement with teaching such concepts as Separation of Powers and Constitutional Interpretation at top tier law schools that include his alma mater, Yale, and Harvard and Georgetown.

-Neighbor editorial

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