Acton Institute Powerblog

6 Quotes: Judge Brett Kavanaugh on law, liberty, and the U.S. Constitution

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Earlier this week, President Trump announced he has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. In honor of the nomination, here are six quotes by Judge Kavanaugh on law, liberty, and the Constitution:

On the Judiciary and the Rule of Law: “I believe very deeply in those visions of the rule of law as a law of rules, and of the judge as umpire. By that, I mean a neutral, impartial judiciary that decides cases based on settled principles without regard to policy preferences or political allegiances or which party is on which side in a particular case.”

On Meaning and the Constitution: “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.”

On Religious Liberty and Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate: “The essential principle is crystal clear: When the Government forces someone to take an action contrary to his or her sincere religious belief . . . or else suffer a financial penalty . . . the Government has substantially burdened the individual’s exercise of religion. So it is in this case.”

On the First Amendment and Net Neutrality: “[T]he net neutrality rule violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Under the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, 512 U.S. 622 (1994), and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, 520 U.S. 180 (1997), the First Amendment bars the Government from restricting the editorial discretion of Internet service providers, absent a showing that an Internet service provider possesses market power in a relevant geographic market. Here, however, the FCC has not even tried to make a market power showing. Therefore, under the Supreme Court’s precedents applying the First Amendment, the net neutrality rule violates the First Amendment.”

On Individual Liberty and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: “The [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau]’s concentration of enormous executive power in a single, unaccountable, unchecked director not only departs from settled historical practice, but also poses a far greater risk of arbitrary decision-making and abuse of power, and a far greater threat to individual liberty, than does a multi-member independent agency.”

On the Constitution as a “Living Document”: “In the views of some, the Constitution is a living document, and the Court must ensure that the Constitution adapts to meet 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 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.”

 

Image source: U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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