This past Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy as the next U.S. Supreme Court justice. Kennedy, who was nominated by President Reagan in 1987 and has served on the court ever since, announced this June that he intends to retire. Two weeks after Kennedy’s announcement that sent most of the political world into a frenzy, President Trump then officially nominated Federal Appeals Court Judge Kavanaugh to fill his seat. The nomination immediately evoked strong reactions from both sides of the aisle. Top Republicans praised Kavanaugh’s unrivaled qualifications and conservative interpretations of the Constitution, while Democrats unsurprisingly resorted to hyperbolic rhetoric when criticizing Kavanaugh.
Though the chance to fill a seat on the Supreme Court is always a rare and momentous occasion, this vacancy carries a special weight. For the past three decades, Kennedy has served as the court’s “swing vote” and has aligned his opinions with those of conservative and liberal justices, alike, in many narrow decisions throughout his career. Kavanaugh, however, is substantially more conservative than Kennedy. With Kavanaugh’s nomination, the ideological makeup of the court hangs in the balance. If confirmed, the court will have a true 5-4 conservative majority for the first time in decades and would likely retain that majority for a generation, because Supreme Court justice appointments last a lifetime. Kavanaugh’s impact on the court — and subsequently, on our entire country — cannot be understated.
Thankfully, Kavanaugh’s breadth of judicial experience and unrivaled knowledge of the Constitution make him extremely qualified for the job. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1990, Kavanaugh worked for Solicitor General Ken Starr, clerked for Kennedy and worked as the White House Staff Secretary during the George W. Bush administration. In 2006, Kavanaugh was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second-highest court in the country. Since his confirmation, Kavanaugh has issued nearly 300 opinions, demonstrating his years of experience and understanding of the law. In addition to Kavanaugh’s long list of qualifications, he possesses one defining trait that has left Republicans salivating and Democrats close to a mental breakdown: He is a judicial originalist. Judicial originalism is one of the hallmarks of conservative political ideology; Merriam-Webster defines it as “a legal philosophy that the words in documents and especially the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted as they were understood at the time they were written.”
For years, the left has used the Supreme Court to pursue a political agenda, effectively undermining the legislative process and implementing policy through court decisions. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, our nation’s highest court will no longer be legislating from the bench. Kavanaugh possesses all the traits of a great Supreme Court justice. He is extremely qualified, has a unique understanding of the law and is an upstanding citizen with high moral character. With Kavanaugh serving on the Supreme Court, Americans can expect a justice who will protect their God-given rights, restrain government overreach and interpret the Constitution as it was written.
Wright Ricketts is a senior banking and finance and managerial finance double major from Memphis.