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Orrin Hatch: Kavanaugh’s confirmation — a victory for the courts and the nation

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, walks before a vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 in Washington.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, walks before a vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 in Washington.
Alex Brandon, AP

The confirmation of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court is a fitting capstone to my many decades of service on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation is a victory for the committee and a victory for the rule of law. But it’s a victory that came with a heavy price.

Both the reputation of a good man and the character of the Senate were tarnished by the rank cynicism that was on full display over the course of this confirmation battle. For nakedly partisan purposes, Democrats plumbed the depths of political depravity to try to prevent this confirmation from going forward. In their scorched-earth approach, progressives sought not only to defeat Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination; they fought to destroy his good name. Ultimately, they failed.

As a testament to his character, Judge Kavanaugh survived the most sordid smear campaign in the history of American politics. Our nation saw the strength of his personal resolve firsthand during his confirmation hearing. In the face of multiple sensational allegations, Judge Kavanaugh refused to withdraw from the process and instead chose to defend his good name. Here’s to celebrating Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a victory for truth over partisan manipulation.

I have no doubt that Judge Kavanaugh will serve the Supreme Court with wisdom and impartiality. His record from his more than 12 years on the D.C. Circuit is impressive, to say the least. The Supreme Court has affirmed the positions in his opinions over a dozen times. He frequently found common legal ground with his liberal colleagues to reach unanimity, choosing to uphold neutral principles of law instead of resorting to quibbles over policy. When he did write dissents, his well-reasoned opinions were prominently featured, discussed and praised by legal scholars.

Judge Kavanaugh’s intelligence and experience make him eminently qualified. So does his character. Throughout this strained confirmation process, the Judiciary Committee has received countless letters from high school classmates, former students and former clerks all praising Judge Kavanaugh for his generosity and warmth. His female law clerks wrote that the court is “fairer and more equal” because of him. He is deeply dedicated to community service, coaching a middle school girls basketball team and dishing out casseroles at local soup kitchens.

Of course, you would never know any of this from the Democrats' characterization of Judge Kavanaugh. From the moment he was nominated, they set out to make a monster of a mensch, maligning one of the most honorable men in the federal judiciary.

I’m sorry that Judge Kavanaugh had to go through this ordeal. He did not deserve this. He is a good man. He spent decades building a reputation of honesty, decency and fairness. His opponents have done their best to destroy it with three weeks of smut and unsubstantiated allegations.

But I know Brett Kavanaugh. I know him well. He is a man of great resilience and firm conviction. He is going to be a great justice, perhaps one of the greatest we’ve ever had. He will bring to the Supreme Court the integrity, honor and intellectual rigor he has demonstrated throughout his entire career. And soon, he will rebuild his reputation. He will earn the respect of his colleagues and the American people through his writings and his decisions. Of that I have no doubt.

I hope that next week, my fellow senators and I can move on and start working together again — but I worry we won’t. I worry that this unjust and grossly unfair campaign against one of our nation’s best and brightest public servants has left a permanent scar. I worry that the politicization of our courts has choked any spirit of compromise. The tragedy that played out in the Senate over the past few weeks represented a titanic breakdown in civility.

I couldn’t have been more delighted to cast my final Supreme Court confirmation vote in favor of Judge Kavanaugh. He will uphold the Constitution, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. My optimism about the court’s future however, has been dampened by the Democrats’ deeply troubling conduct during this most recent confirmation battle. I can only hope that Congress is able to recover even half the dignity that Judge Kavanaugh has displayed throughout his entire adult life and will continue to display while serving on the Supreme Court.