Brett Kavanaugh

U.S. Supreme Court Nomination Acceptance Speech

delivered 9 July 2018, White House, Washington, D.C.

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Mr. President, thank you.  Throughout this process, I’ve witnessed firsthand your appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary.

No President has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.

Mr. President, I am grateful to you and I am humbled by your confidence in me.  Thank you.

Thirty years ago, President Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court.  The framers established that the Constitution is designed to secure the blessings of liberty.  Justice Kennedy devoted his career to securing liberty.  I am deeply honored to be nominated to fill his seat on the Supreme Court.

My mom and dad are here.  I am their only child.  When people ask what it’s like to be an only child, I say, “It depends on who your parents are.”

I was lucky.  My mom was a teacher.  In the 1960s and 70s she taught history at two largely African American public high schools in Washington, D.C. — McKinley Tech and H.D. Woodson.  Her example taught me the importance of equality for all Americans.

My mom was a trailblazer.  When I was 10, she went to law school and became a prosecutor.  My introduction to law came at our dinner table when she practiced her closing arguments.  Her trademark line was: “Use you common sense.  What rings true?  What rings false?”  That’s good advice a juror, and for a son.

One of the few women prosecutors at that time, she overcame barriers and became a trial judge.  The President introduced me tonight as Judge Kavanaugh.  But to me that title will always belong to my mom.

My dad went to law school at night while working full time.  He has an unparalleled work ethic and has passed down to me his passion for playing and watching sports.  I love him dearly.

The motto of my Jesuit high school was “Men for others.”  I’ve tried to live that creed.  I’ve spent my career in public service, from the executive branch and the White House to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  I’ve served with 17 other judges, each of them a colleague and a friend.

My judicial philosophy is straightforward.  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.

For the past 11 years, I’ve taught hundreds of students, primarily at Harvard Law School.  I teach that the Constitution’s separation of powers protects individual liberty, and I remain grateful to the dean who hired me, Justice Elena Kagan.

As a judge, I hire four law clerks each year.  I look for the best.  My law clerks come from diverse backgrounds and points of view.  I am proud that a majority of my law clerks have been women.

I am part of the vibrant Catholic community in the D.C. area.  The members of that community disagree about many things, but we are united by a commitment to serve.  Father John Enzler is here.  Forty years ago, I was an altar boy for Father John.  These days, I help him serve meals to the homeless at Catholic Charities.

I have two spirited daughters -- Margaret and Liza.  Margaret loves sports, and she loves to read.  Liza loves sports, and she loves to talk. I have tried to create bonds with my daughters like my dad created with me.  For the past seven years, I have coached my daughter’s basketball teams.  The girls on the team call me “Coach K.”  I am proud of our Blessed Sacrament team that just won the city championship.

My daughters and I also go to lots of games.  Our favorite memory was going to the historic Notre Dame-Yukon women’s basketball game at this year’s Final Four.  Unforgettable.

My wife Ashley is a West Texan.  A graduate of Abilene Cooper Public High School and the University of Texas.  She is now the town manager of our community.  We met in 2001 when we both worked in the White House.  Our first date was on September 10, 2001.  The next morning, I was a few steps behind her as the Secret Service shouted at all of us to sprint out the front gates of the White House because there was an inbound plane.  In the difficult weeks that followed, Ashley was a source of strength for President Bush and for everyone in this building.  Through bad days and so many better days since then, she’s been a great wife and inspiring mom.  I thank God every day for my family.

Tomorrow, I begin meeting with members of the Senate, which plays an essential role in this process.  I will tell each senator that I revere the Constitution.  I believe that an independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic.  If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case, and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American Rule of Law.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

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