Former clerk: Here's the kind of judge Kavanaugh is

Thursday, August 9, 2018
Chris Woodward (

Trump with Judge Brett KavanaughConfirmation hearings are expected in September for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh – and that means critics and supporters are wasting little time sharing their thoughts.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have spent much of their summer raising concerns about Kavanaugh's opinions and records, the idea being that Kavanaugh would do more harm than good in replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy at the U.S. Supreme Court.

While Republicans say the anti-Kavanaugh brigade is merely trying to stall proceedings – something the GOP was accused of doing with President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court – people who clerked for Kavanaugh are saying there's nothing to be worry about.


"Judge Kavanaugh has been an extraordinary mentor and friend to me and to all of his law clerks," says Justin Walker, now an assistant professor of law at the University of Louisville. (See a related video interview of Walker by Bloomberg)

Walker first met Kavanaugh when the latter taught a class about constitutional law. "He teaches every January at Harvard Law School," says Walker, "so you know he must really enjoy teaching constitutional law and thinking about the Constitution if he's willing to spend three weeks in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the middle of winter."

Walker describes Kavanaugh as very down to earth, a family man, and a sports fan.

"A majority of his clerks have been women," Walker continues. "Thirteen of his 48 clerks have been minorities, and he's made a point of really being a champion for people in the law who have been left out in the past.

"Judge Kavanaugh believes that it's the job of a judge to say what the law is and apply the law, rather than just inventing the law however he wants it to be – and he believes that because he understands what the separation of powers are all about," adds Walker. "The judges aren't there to represent constituents, and so a judge is supposed to simply apply the law as it is written without any passion or prejudice for any particular party or any particular policy position – [and] that's just the kind of judge that Brett Kavanaugh is."

In a related op-ed on Kavanaugh, Lisa Blatt, a former Justice Ginsburg clerk, describes herself as a liberal feminist and says Democrats should support Kavanaugh.

And regarding the 2nd Amendment ...

The political arm of the National Rifle Association wants senators to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. A portion of a new pro-Kavanaugh ad campaign by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action states:

"Four liberal justices oppose your right to self-defense – four justices support your right to self-defense. President Trump chose Brett Kavanaugh to break the tie. Your right to self-defense depends on this vote."

NRA-ILA spokesman Lars Dalseide says when one looks at Kavanaugh's decisions, one sees that he uses a historical and textural analysis – "which means he actually tries to understand what the law meant, when it was written at that particular time," he says. 

Dalseide explains that in addition to the national campaign, the NRA-ILA also purchased spots in Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia.

"We picked those states in particular because there are senators who represent those states who are up for election and could be the deciding vote," he continues.

At least one gun-control group has responded to the ad campaign. Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords, released a statement that included this charge: "Make no mistake: any senator who votes in favor of Kavanaugh's nomination will be casting a vote against public safety."

Giffords began in 2016 after Americans for Responsible Solutions joined forces with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. It derives its name from former Democratic congresswoman and shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.

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