Kavanaugh on the Constitution

Jul 16, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh stated that his judicial philosophy is “straightforward.” A judge “must interpret the law, not make it.” Prior to the announcement of his nomination, Judge Kavanaugh gave a speech about his view on the Constitution.

In his speech, “From the Bench: The Constitutional Statesmanship of Chief Justice William Rehnquist

that Kavanaugh presented for the 2017 Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture at the American Enterprise Institute about Chief Justice Rehnquist, he said Rehnquist was “his first judicial hero.” Kavanaugh’s lecture focused on the impact that Rehnquist had on the Supreme Court, noting that the “Court unquestionably changed and became more an institution of law, where its power is to interpret and to apply the law as writing, informed by historical practice, not be its own person and policy predilections.”

Before discussing what he admired about Rehnquist, Judge Kavanaugh shared his judicial philosophy:

“It is sometimes said that the Constitution is a document of majestic generalities. I view it differently. As I see it, the Constitution is primarily a document of majestic specificity, and those specific words have meaning. Absent constitutional amendment, those words continue to bind us as judges, legislators, and executive officials.” 

As to who has authority to amend the Constitution, Judge Kavanaugh said: “The Constitution quite specifically tells us that the people decide through their elected representatives. An amendment requires the approval of two-thirds of both houses of Congress as well as three-quarters of the states.”

Kavanaugh noted that “pressure is often placed on the courts and the Supreme Court to update the Constitution to reflect the times.” He then went on to state:

“In the view of some, the Constitution is a living document, and the Court must ensure that the Construction adapts to meeting the changing times. For those of us who believe that the judges are confined to interpreting and applying the Constitution and laws as they are written and not as we might wish they were written, we too believe in a Constitution that lives and endures and in statutes that live and endure. But we believe that the changes to the Constitution and laws are to be made by the people through the amendment process and, where appropriate, through the legislative process – not by the courts snatching that constitutional or legislative authority for themselves.”

Kavanaugh’s nomination is a reminder that the most powerful branches of government are the furthest removed from our democratic process and not the system America’s Founders envisioned.

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented, “The Founders didn’t intend to create executive or judicial supremacy. The Constitution sets forth three branches of government with the most power residing in the people. Judges and courts are not the social conscience imposing their predilections on the people. Judge Kavanaugh believes that judges must interpret the law, not make it. This is a simple straightforward judicial philosophy and one the Founders envisioned. Only when judges interpret the law and refrain from making social policy can our liberties be secure,” said Staver.

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