Brett Kavanaugh on the Importance of Judicial Temperament
In a 2015 speech, he told law students that it's vital for judges "To keep our emotions in check. To be calm amidst the storm."
Mother Jones tweeted out a video with the descriptor,
“In a 2015 speech, Brett Kavanaugh said that a judge must keep “emotions in check” and not be a “political partisan.”
At the hearing last week, Kavanaugh did not demonstrate the ability to put aside partisanship.”
In one of only a handful of instances I can recall lately, the actual source is more damning than the description given to it by a partisan outlet:
David Corn’s write-up is useful for those who dislike or are unable to listen to videos:
At Thursday’s historic and dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Judge Brett Kavanaugh issued a fiery and angry response to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her more than three decades ago. An upset Kavanaugh—who alternated between bursts of belligerence and tear-suppressing sniffles—assailed the hearing as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit.” He railed against “outside left-wing opposition groups” and claimed this “circus” was a Democratic plot fueled by “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” whom he investigated in the 1990s. When questioned by Democratic senators, Kavanaugh was contentious, argumentative, and combative.
In 2015, Kavanaugh gave a speech—titled “The Judge as Umpire”—at the Columbus Law School at Catholic University. It was during this event that he now-infamously said, “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep.” But later in the speech, Kavanaugh explained the importance of judicial temperament. He described the attributes required for a “good judge”: to have the “proper demeanor,” to keep “our emotions in check,” to be “calm amidst the storm,” and to “demonstrate civility.” And, Kavanaugh added, “Don’t be a jerk.”
Here’s the transcript of the key part:
To be a good judge and a good umpire, it’s important to have the proper demeanor. Really important, I think. To walk in the others’ shoes, whether it be the other litigants, the litigants in the case, the other judges. To understand them. To keep our emotions in check. To be calm amidst the storm. On the bench, to put it in the vernacular, don’t be a jerk. I think that’s important. To be a good umpire and a good judge, don’t be a jerk. In your opinions, to demonstrate civility—I think that’s important as well. To show, to help display, that you are trying to make the decision impartially and dispassionately based on the law and not based on your emotions. That we’re not the bigger than the game…There’s a danger of arrogance, as for umpires and referees, but also for judges. And I would say that danger grows the more time you’re on the bench. As one of my colleagues puts it, you become more like yourself—and that can be a problem.
I’m afraid that Kavanaugh became more like himself on Thursday. Yes, I understand that, if he’s innocent of the worst charges against him, he has a right to be angry. And that he thinks Democrats on the committee deliberately leaked the Ford accusations at the 11th hour. But he failed his own test here.